After a quick one-game road trip to Atlanta, the Celtics are now on a three-game winning streak and host the Miami Heat tonight at TD Garden. The Celtics have a new start time of 6:00 pm for this one as the league celebrates MLK Day. Since the big Toronto win, Boston took care of business on a back-to-back with Memphis and Atlanta. They took advantage of their sliding seasons with a pair of fourth quarter comebacks led mostly by Kyrie Irving. They will have a smaller margin of error today with a Miami Heat team who beat the Celtics only six games ago.
The Heat come into Boston 5-5 in their last 10. They are bouncing around that 7 or 8-seed of the Eastern Conference. On Saturday, the Heat went over to Chicago and took down the Bulls with Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters leading the team with 26 and 21 points respectively. You never really know what to expect with this Miami team with one night to the next. It is a main reason why they are sitting at .500 because they just can not seem to cobble together enough consecutive wins to make a real push up the standings.
Dwyane Wade will look again to put on a show tonight in front of the Boston crowd. On this presumable retirement tour, he has been tearing it up in some of the more notable cities since he wants to shine under the spotlight. The Heat have two more games against the Celtics, so it won’t be his last game in Boston, but nonetheless he will try and put on a show if he has it going offensively.
As mentioned, these two teams played each other only 11 days ago when the Heat smacked down the Celtics 115-99 on national television. It is worth mentioning the Celtics had a game the night before in Boston before an away game in Miami, but either way, they were down 18 points at halftime. Kyrie Irving led the Celtics in points with 22 with Marcus Smart contributing 18 of his own. Dwayne Wade led the Heat with 19 points. For the Celtics to not have the same result, they are going to need to keep their focus at a high level for the whole game.
To this point, the Celtics main key for this game needs to be avoiding going down double digits early in games to put them in a deficit in the fourth quarter. In Memphis, they were down 8 going into the fourth quarter. Against the Hawks, they were down double digits most of the game before they flipped the switch to get back in the game. Just like we saw in their first matchup, that will not be good enough in this one. It will be crucial they jump on this team early and not let them get rolling.
Both teams have fortunate injury situations coming into tonight’s game. For the Celtics, they once again have a clean injury sheet with Gordon Hayward coming back into the lineup after having a personal scratch from the trip to Atlanta. Also, the Celtics will have Marcus Smart in this one as earlier today, the league reported that Smart will not be suspended for his actions on Saturday night in Atlanta. He was only fined $35K, but he will not face any games missed. For the Heat, they will only be without Goran Dragic as he comes back from a knee injury.
This means that Coach Spoelstra will be going with a starting lineup that includes Justise Winslow at the “point.” This is a lineup with lots of switching available for them. The Celtics will have their normal five who can actually matchu p well against this Heat team. If they can contain Hassan Whiteside, on the boards who has caused issued before, the Celtics can jump on this team out of the gate.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Justise Winslow
SG – Marcus Smart – Josh Richardson
SF – Jayson Tatum – Rodney McGruder
PF – Marcus Morris Sr. – James Johnson
C – Al Horford – Hassan Whiteside
Boston – NONE
Miami – Goran Dragic (Out, knee)
How To Watch
Time – 6:00 EST
TV – NBC Sports Boston