Who: Miami Heat (38-39) at Boston Celtics (46-32)
What: Five Games Left
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Wade County, Florida
When: Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 7:30 p.m. EST
Why: To Stave Off Orlando
Injuries: Q-Josh Richardson (Heel), Q-Justise Winslow (Thigh), Q-Rodney McGruder (Knee), O-Derrick Jones Jr. (Knee)
The Heat might need a new training staff. Sheesh. That’s a lot of injuries. Despite everyone being hurt, the Heat play the Celtics for the second straight game, being just .5 games ahead of Orlando in the standings. This, and more than likely the rest of the games this year, are must-wins for Miami.
The Celtics beat the Heat on Friday, 110-105. Obviously, the same can be said for Miami. It was an ugly game at the start for Miami, getting outscored 17-36 in the first quarter, but two straight 30-point quarters after that brought Miami back into it. They outperformed Boston from the second quarter on, but just couldn’t battle back from a 19-point deficit.
Dragic had 30. Wade had 17. Adebayo had 19. Kyrie had 25. Tatum had 19, and so did Horford.
These two teams have played three times this season, with Boston leading the series, 2-1. This is the last time these two teams will match up this year.
As I mentioned in Monday’s preview, the Celtics have a lot of star power. The Heat let that star power overwhelm them in Monday’s meeting, letting Kyrie and Jayson Tatum get into a groove that was hard to overcome. There was also this oddly disjointed play that was all over Twitter.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 2, 2019
The Heat defense is solid, and that’s without question. Their defensive efficiency numbers are in the top 10 in the league, and they’ve gotten even better with Bam Adebayo starting at the center position. The key on defense is to remember that defensive identity and act accordingly. Miami can’t let the Celtics overwhelm them early.
Offensively, give the ball to Dragic. He’s been on a tear lately, and it’s good to see him in pre-injury form. The Heat ran a lot of plays to get him open shots, and he found his own shot opportunities as well, so he’s got to be the person that the offense flows through, especially with Miami more than likely missing Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
The match-up of the day is Kyrie Irving and Goran Dragic. Entertaining, high-speed cuts to the basket on both ends. So exciting.
Final Score Prediction: 110-102 Celtics
The Celtics close out their season with games against the Pacers, Magic, and Wizards.
The Heat have four games left after tonight, against the Timberwolves, Raptors, Sixers, and Nets.
Things are going to be tough for the Heat to finish it out. The Magic have the Knicks, Hawks, Celtics, and Hornets to end the year. As I mentioned, the Heat have two match-ups against top-three eastern conference teams. If the Heat beat the Celtics tonight, they need to pull off at least two more upsets to make the playoffs.
The Magic are more than likely going to lose to the Celtics, but the rest of those games are potential wins. Miami needs to step it up.
The Nets, who are a half-game ahead of the Heat, have the Raptors, Bucks, Pacers, and Heat to finish the year. If Miami can beat Boston tonight, and the Raptors beat the Nets, the Heat will find themselves in the seventh seed. Interesting, interesting.