Who: Miami Heat (38-38) at Boston Celtics (45-32)
What: No Joke on April Fool’s
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
When: Monday, April 1, 2019, 7:30PM EST
Why: To Stave Off Orlando
Injuries: O-Josh Richardson (Heel), O-Justise Winslow (Thigh), O-Rodney McGruder (Knee)
Let’s do a quick recap of the last few days: The Heat beat the Mavericks, 105-99, Goran Dragic started and had a triple double. The Heat then beat the Knicks on Saturday, 100-92, thanks to 28 points from Dion Waiters at MSG. The Heat have won seven of their last ten games, and are making a strong push to sneak into the playoffs. Let’s talk about today.
The last Celtics game was an absolutely blowout by the Brooklyn Nets, 110-96. Kyrie Irving didn’t play, and Jayson Tatum only had nine points. Kyrie is expected to play today.
Like I said before, the Heat beat the Knicks at MSG on Saturday, 100-92. The Knicks are trying to tank, so a win against them isn’t necessarily the biggest deal, but it put the Heat at a solid .500, and they’re .5 games ahead of Orlando, who lost on Saturday.
These teams have played twice before, with a record of 1-1 on the season. They’ll also play on Wednesday in Miami, to finish out the season series.
Without Winslow, Richardson, and McGruder, the Heat are going to have to run their offense in ways they wouldn’t expect. Wade is going to play a lot more, as is Waiters, as is Dragic. Three injury-prone guys receiving more playing time. What can go wrong?
The Heat are also going to have to face a Boston team that, despite underperforming this year, is still very good. Boston has Jayson Tatum, arguably one of the better isolation shooters in the NBA. They have Kyrie Irving, who’s a wizard with the basketball. They have Al Horford, who I like to call “the second coming of Tim Duncan.” He’s not as good, but his fundimentals will scare you on both ends of the floor. Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, the list goes on.
The star power in Boston is what will overwhelm any team, so that’s the key: don’t get caught in the bright lights. If the Heat let Kyrie dance on them and score 40, something he’s very capable of doing, this game isn’t going to turn at well. If you let Tatum get in a groove, or Hayward come off the bench and score efficiently, you lose.
Without two of their best offensive players, the Heat’s 26th-ranked offense will certainly struggle against a solid Boston defense. Just like you can’t let Kyrie drop 40, the Heat need someone to have an outstanding game. My money’s on Wade’s last tilt in TD Garden. He’s had a few games in there. I’d also look out for Dragic, who’s recently been reminding people that he’s good at basketball.
Final Score Prediction: 118-102 Celtics
The Celtics will…play the Heat on Wednesday, in Miami.
The Heat will play the Celtics on Wednesday, in Miami. I know, shocker.
The 6-9 seeds in the NBA playoffs are separated by 1.5 games. I love this. The Magic, who are .5 games behind Miami, play the two-seed Raptors today. The Nets play the one-seed Bucks today, and Giannis will actually play today. The Pistons play the Pacers in two straight matchups, today and Wednesday.
Six games left for each team. This is going to be a fun week.