Ball movement, team defense and even scoring distribution have been the hallmarks of the Boston Celtics recent stretch of winning basketball. Coming into tonight’s game against the Heat, things are starting to come together and fans have caught glimpses of that preseason ‘contender’ Danny Ainge assembled as we hit the 40 games mark in the 2018-2019 season.
A highlight of the last two games has the passing play of the team, which has been clicking with good chemistry tallying 32 assists last night against the Pacers and 37 Monday night against the Nets. Putting together a full 48 minute performance has been rare this season, the team are getting to know one another’s tendencies as players roles are starting to become more distilled.
Gordon Hayward has steadily progressed into a consistent performer through four wins to start the year, the former All Star is averaging 19.3 pts, 5.3 rbs and 4.8 asts in 2019. Casting a wider net to the past ten games, early season fan scapegoat Jaylen Brown has been averaging 14.4 ppg on an extremely efficient 55% field goal shooting percentage.
In the first meeting between these teams this season, the Miami Heat come into the game 7th in the East with a 19-20 record. Interestingly the Heat have a better record on the road as they are woeful 9 wins and 12 losses in front of the South Beach fans. The Heat have lost 2 in a row and Tuesday night fell to the Denver Nuggets 103-99. On the flipside Boston has not been great on the second night of back-to-backs, registering just a 2-4 record so far this season.
The Celtics early season lapses and letdowns have often occurred against mainly the lesser Eastern conference teams this season and fingers crossed the team can play up to the lofty potential displayed to start the new year. Miami are not an overly potent offensive team, they rank 26th in the league at 106.3 points per game and sit at 28th in field goal percentage.
Shooting guard Josh Richardson leads the Heat in scoring at 18.1 ppg and with an injury to dynamic playmaker Goran Dragic (knee) who is out, the Heat will look to Justice Winslow and veteran Dwayne Wade to pick up the playmaking slack. Hassan Whiteside patrols the paint for Miami and with 2.53 blocks per outing, and Boston will be mindful of his presence.
Coach Spoelstra has tinkered with lineups recently as Dion Waiters saw time against the Nuggets ahead of Derrick Jones Jr. 6-10 Sophmore Bam Abebayo is also a big man the Celtics will need to keep off the glass, and former Celtics PF Kelly Olynyk played very well against the C’s last season averaging 17.3 pts and 7.3 rebs through 3 outings.
The Celtics will be sporting the new City Edition jerseys tonight in Miami, with tip off at 7pm on the national stage, televised on TNT and don’t forget NBA All Star voting counts twice today.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Justice Winslow
SG – Marcus Smart – Josh Richardson
SF – Jayson Tatum – Rodney McGruder
PF – Marcus Morris Sr. – James Johnson
C – Al Horford – Hassan Whiteside
Boston – Aron Baynes (Hand), Lucky the Mascot (Ankle)
Miami – Goran Dragic (Knee)
How To Watch
Time – 7:00 EST
How To Watch – TNT