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Celtics look to get back on track as they host the Miami Heat

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The Celtics look to get back on track as they begin a 4 game home stand with a visit from the Miami Heat.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


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Miami Heat (10-23) at Boston Celtics (19-14)
Friday, December 30, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #34, Home Game #14
TV: CSNNE, FS Sun, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/752(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 790 The Ticket
TD Garden

Referees: Monty McCutchen, Pat Fraher, Aaron Smith



The Celtics are back home to host the Miami Heat for the 3rd of 4 games this season. The Celtics won the first two games in Miami 112-104 and 105-95. They will meet one more time on 3/26/17, also in Boston. The Celtics swept the series last season 3-0 and have won 5 straight games against the Heat.

The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Heat are just 3-7 in their last 10. The Celtics have played just 13 games at home and are 7-6 at the TD Garden. The Heat are 5-10 on the road. The Celtics had won 2 before losing on Thursday night to the Cavaliers. The Heat have lost 3 in a row, losing to the Hornets 91-82 on Thursday.

Neither team was at full strength in their first two meetings with both teams struggling with injuries. The Celtics are finally at full strength while the Heat are still struggling with some injuries. Josh McRoberts and Dion Waiters are both out. Chris Bosh is out for the season, even though he really wants to play. Goran Dragic was listed as questionable going into Thursday's game but played and according to their coach, was just 50-60% healthy. He is listed as a game time decision for this game.

Both teams are playing in back to back games. The Heat played at home on Thursday night against the Charlotte Hornets and had to travel after the game. The Celtics played the Cavaliers on the road and had to travel after the game as well. Unlike last year, the Celtics haven't been as dominant on the second night of back to back games with just a 3-3 record on the second night. The Heat are 1-5 on the second night of back to back games.

Against the Hornets, Erik Spoelstra started his 12th different lineup this season. Luke Babbitt started at power forward in place of Derrick Williams who had been starting at that position. The lineup change didn't work out very well for the Heat and they may stick with it for this game, or they may try yet a different starting lineup.
Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

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Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic

Shooting Guard

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Avery Bradley vs Josh Richardson

Small Forward
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Jae Crowder vs Justise Winslow

Power Forward
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Al Horford vs Luke Babbitt

Center
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Amir Johnson vs Hassan Whiteside

Celtics Reserves
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries
None

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Reserves
Luke Babbitt
Udonis Haslem
Tyler Johnson
Rodney McGruder
James Johnson
Wayne Ellington
Willie Reed

Injuries
Chris Bosh (blood clots) out
Dion Waiters (pectineus tear) out
Josh McRoberts (foot) out
Goran Dragic (back spasms) game time decision

Coach
Erik Spoelstra
Key Matchups
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Isaiah Thomas vs Goran Dragic
Former teammates match up against each other. Dragic is averaging 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists. They certainly know each other and their tendencies and so this should be a good matchup. Dragic scored 27 and 31 points in the first two games and the Celtics will need to try to keep him from having another big game. Dragic was just 2-11 on Thursday after being listed as questionable with back spasms. If he plays in this game, he may once again be less than 100%

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Amir Johnson vs Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside has played very well since coming to the Heat, especially on defense. He is averaging 17.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. He pulled down 17 rebounds in each of the first two meetings between these two teams. The Celtics will have a tough time scoring inside with Whiteside patrolling the paint. Amir will need to pull him away from the basket to open up the paint for the Celtics.

Honorable Mention
Jae Crowder vs Justise Winslow
We all remember draft night when Danny was rumored to be willing to give up the farm to be able to draft Winslow. He is averaging 11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Jae should be able to slow him down considerably and frustrate him in the process.


Marcus Smart vs Tyler Johnson
Johnson has had success as the Heat's Sixth Man. He is averaging 13.4 points off the bench, which is the second highest average for any player with no starts. Only Lou Williams is averaging more.

Keys to the Game
Defense

Defense wins games. The Heat have a defensive rating of 103.7 while the Celtics have a defensive rating of 104.5. The Celtics should be capable of much better defense, given the very good individual defenders they have on the team. They must put it together to play tough team defense. The team that is able to lock down on defense will more than likely get the win.

Rebound

The Heat are averaging 45.1 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 42.0 rebounds per game. Crashing the boards will give the Celtics extra possessions as well as keeping the Heat from getting fast breaks and second chance points. However, Hassan Whiteside has been cleaning up on the glass for the Heat and the Celtics will need to work hard to win the rebounding battle.

Be Aggressive
The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. They have to dive for loose balls and be aggressive in crashing the boards. They can't afford to slack off or to allow the Heat to play harder than them. They have to be the team that wants it more.

Play Hard for 48 Minutes
The starters need to come out and play aggressively from the beginning and the second unit needs to come in and pick up where they leave off. They have to attack the basket and be aggressive on defense for the whole 48 minutes. No letting up. If they played hard for 48 minutes against the Cavs, they would have won that game.

X-Factors
Home game
- The Celtics are back home again. So far this season they haven't really capitalized on home court advantage with a 7-6 home record. Of course, they haven't really gotten any love from the refs at home either, which just means they need to play harder to get the win. The Celtics need to get energy from the home crowd and make playing at the Garden difficult for opposing players.

Officiating - Officiating can always be an x-factor. In a lot of games the officiating isn't a factor. But there are some where the officiating completely tilts the game in one direction or the other. Which will the Celtics get in this game? The Celtics haven't gotten a lot of love from the referees, either home or away and so it's tough to know what they will get in this game. However, the Celtics must play through the officiating and play their game, adjusting to how the game is called.