The Celtics complete their two game road trip with a stop in Miami to take on the Heat. This is the first of 3 regular season meetings. They will meet again in Miami on November 22 and in Boston on December 20. The Celtics swept the series 4-0 last season. This is the 4th game of a 6 game home stand for the Heat and the last of a 2 game road trip for the Celtics.
The Celtics will be without Marcus Morris again this game but he is expected to make his debut either Monday vs the Spurs or Wednesday vs the Kings. For the Heat, Hassan Whiteside will miss his 4th straight game with a bone bruise on his knee. Rodney McGruder is also out with a tibia injury.
The Celtics will face 2 former players who signed with the Heat this summer. After spending his first four seasons in Boston, Kelly Olynyk signed a 4 year $50 million contract with the Heat and is averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. After spending his first two seasons in Boston, most of which were spent with the Red Claws, Jordan Mickey signed with the Heat this summer. He is averaging 5.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Both teams have been experimenting with their starting lineups with key players out. Jordan Mickey has started a couple of games for the Heat, as has Kelly Olynyk. Brad Stevens went back to Aron Baynes in the starting lineup with Irving, Brown, Tatum and Horford.
Probable Celtics Starters
Marcus Morris (knee) out
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Probable Heat Starters
Rodney McGruder (tibia) out
Hassan Whiteside (knee) out
Two Way Players
Derrick Walton, Jr
Matt Williams, Jr
Kyrie Irving vs Goran Dragic
Dragic is averaging 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. He is also shooting 46.7% from beyond the arc. Kyrie will need to make him work for his points and also on defense. Kyrie has looked more and more comfortable with each game and hopefully that continues with this game as well.
Jaylen Brown vs Dion Waiters
Jaylen struggled a bit at the start of the Bucks game but found his shot toward the end. Hopefully that carries over to this game. Waiters is averaging 13.3 points but is capable of having a big game if not kept in check.
Terry Rozier vs Justise Winslow
Winslow was taken with the 10th pick in the 2015 draft. Word on draft night was that Danny was offering multiple picks in order to try to draft Winslow. When no one would take Danny's offers, he ended up drafting Terry Rozier at 16. Winslow is averaging 7.0 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist while Rozier is averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
Keys to the Game
Defense wins games. The Heat have been struggling with their defense without their rim protector, Hassan Whiteside. They are 23rd with a defensive rating of 107.7 while the Celtics are 2nd with a defensive rating of 95.9. The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority and concentrate on keeping the Heat's offense off balance.
The Heat are averaging 40.5 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 46.0 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. The Celtics will need to continue to put extra effort into crashing the boards as a team.
The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers, especially if the jumpers aren't falling. With Whiteside out, the Heat are 26th in allowing 50.0 points in the paint per game and the Celtics should be able to get into the paint for easier baskets. 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.
Move the Ball
The Celtics need to keep the ball moving to find the open man. When
they settle into over-dribbling and trying to do too much individually, they struggle. But, when they play as a team and move the ball they are tough to beat.
Road Game - The Celtics are a young team and are playing their second game in a row on the road. Sometimes younger players struggle to keep their focus on the road. They have to block out the hostile crowd and they have to focus on playing the game and not allow the distractions of playing on the road take their minds off the game.
Kelly Olynyk Revenge Game
I know Kelly is saying how much he misses Boston and that he doesn’t hold any ill will toward them for letting him go, but like any other player who is spurned by one team and goes to another, he has to want to beat his old team to show them what they are missing. And, I can imagine that his teammates will want to play harder to help him get that win.