at Miami Heat (15-15) at Boston Celtics (26-7)
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #34 Home Game #17
TV: NBCSB, FS Sun, NBA-LP 754(DTV)/753(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 790 The Ticket
TD GardenProbable Starting Matchups
Kyrie Irving vs Goran Dragic
Jaylen Brown vs Dion WaitersSmall Forward
Jayson Tatum vs Josh RichardsonPower Forward
Al Horford vs Kelly Olynyk Center
Aron Baynes vs Bam Adebayo Reserves
Marcus Smart Injuries
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Daniel Theis (nose) out
Marcus Morris (knee) out Two Way Players
Jabari BirdHead Coach
Brad Stevens Reserves
Rodney McGruder (tibia) out
Okaro White (foot) out
Hassan Whiteside (knee) out
James Johnson (ankle) out
Justise Winslow (knee) doubtful
Goran Dragic (elbow) questionableTwo Way Players
Derrick Walton, Jr
Matt Williams, JrCoach
Erik Spoelstra Game Notes
The Celtics return home after a successful 2 game road trip to host the Miami Heat. This is the third and final game between these two teams this season. The Celtics won 96-90 when they met on October 28 in Miami and they lost 104-98 when they again played in Miami on November 22. This is the earliest that these two teams have ever wrapped up their series.
The Celtics are looking for their third straight win. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are 13-3 at home. The Heat are 5-5 in their last 10 games and 9-8 on the road. They are looking to get back on track after losing their last game to the Atlanta Hawks 110-104.
The Heat have been hampered with injuries in recent games. Hassan Whiteside is out once again with a sore knee. He missed the Heat's loss in the first game but did play in their win in the second game. James Johnson (ankle), Rodney McGruder (tibia), Okaro White (foot) are also out for this game.
Justise Winslow is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury. Goran Dragic is listed as questionable with a sore elbow, but he has stated that he is going to try to play. For the Celtics, Daniel Theis had his nose rebroken on Tuesday and is expected to miss this game. Marcus Morris (knee) and Gordon Hayward (ankle) remain out.
The Celtics are just 2.5 games up on the Cavaliers who continue to play very well in spite of their loss to the Bucks on Tuesday. The Raptors are just 3.5 games back of the Celtics. The Heat have slipped to 1 game out of playoff contention. With their series tied at 1 game each, this game will give bragging rights to the winner between these two rivals. Key Matchups
Kyrie Irving vs Goran Dragic
Dragic is averaging 16.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. He scored 27 points in each of their last two meetings. Kyrie will need to make him work for his points and also make him work on defense. Dragic is listed as questionable with a sore elbow but he has said that he plans to try to play.
Jaylen Brown vs Dion Waiters
Waiters is averaging 14.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists and he is capable of having a big game if not kept in check. Jaylen will need to defend him well and try not to get into foul trouble in this game as the Celtics need him out there. Honorable Mention
Al Horford vs Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk is averaging 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Al has had experience guarding Kelly in practice, and vice versa. Hopefully Al can can keep Kelly from having a big game from the perimeter and on the other end, make Kelly work on defense. Keys to the Game
Defense wins games. The Celtics still have the best defense in the league but they have let it slip in recent games, whether because of their brutal schedule or they just aren't working as hard. The Celtics are still tops in the league allowing 98.5 points per game while the Heat are allowing 102.2 points per game. The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority and concentrate on keeping the Heat's offense off balance. Rebound
The Heat are averaging 41.0 rebounds per game while the Celtics are averaging 44.1 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. As with the defense, the Celtics have been slipping on the boards recently. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics have to outwork the Heat on the boards. 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 48 Minutes
- The Celtics have been in the habit of playing well just half of the game. They either fall behind by double digits and then have to play extra hard to get back into the game or they get a big lead and then pretty much stop playing to allow their opponents back into the game (see Pacers, Indiana). They need to play hard on both ends of the court from the opening tip to the final buzzer. X-Factors
- The Celtics are back at home after two road games. The Celtics have been playing well at home with a record of 13-3. They need to continue to draw energy from the home crowd and make it difficult for other teams to win at the Garden.
- There are revenge factors on both sides of this game. The series is tied at 1 game each so the winner of this game wins the series. Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey will want to beat their former team and both teams will be motivated to avenge the earlier loss. Also, the Heat win ended the Celtics 16 game win streak and they certainly will want to get back at the Heat for that. Fatigue Factor
- The Celtics are in the midst of a very tough stretch of games. This is their 8th game in 13 days with 5 of those games on the road. They have had 2 sets of back to back games and two sets of 3 games in 4 nights. This is yet again the first of back to back games. The players have not had any chance to practice and they may be getting fatigued. On the other hand, both teams are missing key players with the Heat more short handed than the Celtics. That puts extra work on the remaining players. Fatigue may be a factor for both teams.