Game: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Heat +9, Celtics -9
When the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat tonight, they will have the opportunity to extend their home winning streak to 10 games. The Celtics defeated the shorthanded Charlotte Hornets 140-105 on Monday night despite the absence of injured guard Jaylen Brown (neck) and center Al Horford (back). Even without two key players, the Celtics put on their best offensive showing of the season. It’s worth noting that the Hornets were without five players due to injuries.
Marcus Smart scored 22 points and had a career-high 15 assists, and Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 35 points for the Celtics. Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points in just under 23 minutes of play by making 8-of-9 field goal attempts.
The Heat and Celtics will meet for the second time this season after having battled for the Eastern Conference finals a year ago. Boston won the first meeting of this season, beating the Heat 111-104 back on October 21. Tatum scored 29 points to lead Boston and Brown added 28.
Miami is 2-7 away from home this year but managed to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 106-98 on Sunday night to record a rare road victory. Before that win, the Heat had dropped seven straight road games.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra emphasized the fact that his team was struggling on the road prior to the win over the Hawks. Miami’s struggles on the road provided a little motivation in the in over the Hawks. In the win over Atlanta, Bam Adebayo of Miami had a game-high 32 points and eight rebounds. Caleb Martin added 20 points along with two steals, four assists, and one blocked shot.
Jimmy Butler didn’t play against the Hawks on Sunday. Butler has been out for the past six games with a knee injury but is expected to play tonight. Despite his absence, Miami has won three straight games coming into tonight.
For the majority of Sunday’s game, Miami stayed in a zone defense. That forced Atlanta to try and score from the perimeter. The strategy paid off as Atlanta shot 27.8 percent (10-for-36) from beyond the three-point arc. Given that the Celtics made 24 three-pointers in their victory over Charlotte on Monday, that defensive strategy might not be effective against them. Earlier this month, Boston defeated the New York Knicks 133-118 while making a franchise-high 27 three-pointers.
The Celtics had 40 assists in their victory over Charlotte, which was the team’s highest since 2008. Eight of Smart’s 15 assists came in the first quarter. Boston is seventh in the league in assists per game and their unselfish play is one of the reasons why the Celtics continue to lead the NBA in scoring (120.3 ppg). Boston is fourth in field goal percentage (49.0%) and No. 1 in three-point field goal percentage (40.0).
Boston is 13-1 SU in its last 14 games and 9-0 SU in its last nine at home. Miami is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games. The Heat is 1-4 SU and ATS in the last five games against Boston. Four of the last five head-to-head meetings have resulted in the game total going Under.
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