The Celtics complete their 3 game road trip with a visit to the Miami Heat. This is the second of 3 meetings this season. The Celtics won 96-90 when they met on October 28 in Miami. They will meet one more time in Boston on December 20. The Celtics have won 8 straight games vs the Heat including the last 5 games played in Miami.
In the Celtics win over Miami in October, Hassan Whiteside was out with a knee injury and so this is the first that the Celtics front line will face the Heat's 7' center. The Celtics were without Marcus Morris, who hadn't yet played due to the knee injury. This game ends the Celtics 3 game road trip and will end the Heat's 2 game home stand. The Heat are coming off their worst loss of the season at home, a 120-95 blowout at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.
Rodney McGruder (tibia) and Okaro White (foot) are both out for the Miami Heat. AJ Hammons is on assignment with the Heat's G-League team. The Celtics are healthy other than Gordon Hayward. Although, Brad Stevens has said that Marcus Morris is still on a minutes restriction and may sit out one of the Celtics back to back games on Friday or Saturday.
The starters listed here are from the teams' game notes. They may change by game time as the coaches consider matchups. The Celtics will face 2 former players who signed with the Heat this summer. Kelly Olynyk signed a 4 year, $50 million contract with the Heat while Jordan Mickey is signed for one year at the minimum.
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Rodney McGruder (tibia) out
Okaro White (foot) out
Two Way Players
Derrick Walton, Jr
Matt Williams, Jr
Kyrie Irving vs Goran Dragic
Dragic is averaging 18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. 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 is coming off his best game as a Celtic and we can only hope to see more of that in this game.
Jaylen Brown vs Dion Waiters
Waiters is averaging 15.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists and he is capable of having a big game if not kept in check. Jaylen has been playing very well on both ends of the court and he will need to keep that up in this game.
Al Horford vs Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside is averaging 16.2 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Al will need to keep Whiteside away from the paint to limit his rebounds and blocks. We may see Aron Baynes matched up with him if Al can't be physical enough with him to slow him down.
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 6.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists as a starter while Rozier is averaging 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists off the bench.
Keys to the Game
Defense wins games. The Celtics have won 16 games straight as a result of their tough and gritty defense. The Celtics are still tops in the league with a defensive rating of 95.8 while the Heat are 18th with a defensive rating of 103.9. The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority and concentrate on keeping the Heat's offense off balance.
The Heat are averaging 43.2 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 47.8 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. 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 48 Minutes-
The Celtics have been in the habit of falling behind by double digits and then having to play extra hard to get back into the game. They need to play hard on both ends of the court from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Road Game - The Celtics are a young team and are playing their third straight game 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.
Revenge Factor - The Heat have lost 8 straight to the Celtics, including their first meeting this season. Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey will want to beat their former team and they will be motivated to avenge those losses.
The Streak - The Celtics bring that 16 game win streak into the game and that puts a target on their backs. Every team wants to be the one that ends the Celtics' streak. The Celtics have to come into this game ready to do battle and not play down to the Heat because of their 7-9 record. The Heat will be gunning for them and they need to be ready.