The Boston Celtics are looking to make their three-game road trip through the South a successful one, but it would only happen if they can bounce back for a Tuesday victory over the Miami Heat.
The Celtics will try to rebound from an icy shooting performance in New Orleans on Sunday. Kemba Walker scored a game-high 35 points and Gordon Hayward tallied 23, but the Pelicans led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and went on to defeat the Celtics 123-108.
Forward Jayson Tatum (illness/groin strain) and center Enes Kanter (hip bruise) both missed the game for Boston, which was a chilly 8-for-33 (24.2 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
The Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 109-98 on Friday in the opening game of their trip.
In the first meeting of the season between Boston and Miami on Dec. 4, the homestanding Celtics rolled to a 112-93 win behind Jaylen Brown’s 31 points, including 22 in the second half.
“Our guys did a really good job of driving, kicking, moving the ball and finding the next guy,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “It all works together.”
The Celtics did a fine job from 3-point range, connecting on 16 of 41 attempts (39 percent) against a Miami squad that entered the game ranked second against defending the trey.
The Heat will play for the third time in five nights to finish their five-game homestand, and they will complete a back-to-back set after beating the Orlando Magic 113-92 on Monday. Miami took a 122-117 loss to the Clippers on Friday in a game that featured Los Angeles star Kawhi Leonard recording his first career triple-double.
The Clippers game also marked the return of Miami’s Dion Waiters, who made his season debut in the defeat. Waiters finally got past three separate team-imposed suspensions. With backcourt teammates Kendrick Nunn (Achilles) and Goran Dragic (calf) sidelined, Waiters shot 5-for-12 from the field for 14 points, including a 4-for-9 showing from 3-point range.
Despite a nagging sprained ankle, Jimmy Butler started Monday against the Magic, and Dragic returned to the lineup as well. However, Nunn was out for a second straight game.
Miami held a six-point halftime lead but poured it on in the first five minutes of the second half. The Heat worked their way to a 72-52 lead at the seven-minute mark over the Magic, the NBA’s second-lowest-scoring team, and cruised to the win.
The Heat shot 53.2 percent from the field, drained 14 3-pointers and limited Orlando to 37.1 percent shooting from the field.
Miami forward Bam Adebayo scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in 32 minutes for his third triple-double of the season.
“I’m going to dedicate this one to Kobe, man,” Adebayo said of legendary Kobe Bryant, 41, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash. “That’s my role model. It’s sad and I pray for his family, but this one goes out to Kobe Bean.”
The Heat moved to 21-2 at home, tying them with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers for the league’s best home mark.
–Field Level Media