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Heat end home skid with win over Celtics

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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MIAMI — Starters Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts were already out, and then, just minutes before the Miami Heat was to tip off against the Boston Celtics, the team got more bad news.

Star shooting guard Dwyane Wade had to sit out due to a knee contusion, and backup center Hassan Whiteside was scratched after two toenail extractions.

Despite the adversity, the Heat responded, snapping their five-game home losing streak by defeating Boston 100-84 on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“I didn’t see anybody — once we decided to hold out Dwyane and Hassan … it wasn’t like, ‘Oh boy, here we go again,’ ” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “No, it was: ‘Let’s go put together a great effort.’

“That mentality is more encouraging than anything else.”

There were a lot of encouraging things about the Heat’s performance:

They held Boston to a season-low 84 points.

They gave up no fast-break points to a Celtics team that was averaging 17 in that category.

Miami got balanced scoring. Six players scored in double figures, including forward Luol Deng with a game-high 23 points.

Heat rookie small forward James Ennis had 16 points and eight rebounds. Ten of his points came in the fourth quarter.

Heat point guard Mario Chalmers had 11 points and 10 assists, the sixth double-double of his career and his fourth this season.

“Our guys did a good job of staying ready,” said Deng, referring to players such as Ennis, who got an increased role due to the injuries.

“We’ve been struggling in terms of getting guys healthy. But nobody is trying to take the game over by himself. We played a good team game.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he has seen this sort of thing before.

“Sometimes when you are missing go-to guys like they were with Wade and Bosh, the other (players) are flying all over the place,” Stevens said.

“They were whipping the ball around pretty good, and I’m not sure we responded. We didn’t keep up with their speed the whole game.”

Miami (13-15) was thrilled to break a home losing skid that was its longest since March of 2008. But even with the win, the Heat are just 5-9 at home this season. That’s in contrast to last season, when the Heat went 32-9 at home.

Boston (10-15), despite center Tyler Zeller’s 22 points, had its three-game win streak snapped.

Early on, the Heat had the advantage, leading 28-21 after the first quarter and 52-42 at the half.

The first half also featured the Celtics debut of the three players acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in the Rajon Rondo trade — guard Jameer Nelson, forward Jae Crowder and forward Brandan Wright. All entered the game as reserves.

“We just need a little bit of time to get used to each other,” said Wright, who finished with six points. Nelson had three points, and Crowder was scoreless.

“Time has been limited. But we’re professionals. I look forward to getting better every game.”

Miami’s bench, meanwhile, featured small forward Danny Granger, who scored seven points after missing three games due to a stomach illness.

Even so, the Heat lost backup center Justin Hamilton to a migraine. He sat out the second half.

No worries for Miami, though, as it extended its lead to 72-61 after three quarters, overcoming a strong effort by Zeller, who had 13 of Boston’s 19 points in the period.

“We got the lead, and we really never let them back in the game,” Deng said. “Every time (Boston) got (the lead) down, we made our run.

“It was disappointing that we hadn’t been winning at home. But tonight was much better.”

NOTES: Heat SG Dwyane Wade, who sat out due to a bruised knee, had missed seven games earlier this season due to a hamstring injury. This was his first knee issue this season. … Celtics PG Marcus Smart, the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, made his first NBA start and had three points, four assists and two turnovers. Boston traded PG Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, creating an opportunity for Smart. … The Cavaliers visit Miami on Thursday, and Heat officials reportedly decided to pay video tribute to two of their former players now suiting up for Cleveland: F LeBron James and F/G James Jones. … It appears that Heat F Chris Bosh (calf) will be out past the much-anticipated Cavaliers game. … Heat C Chris “Birdman” Andersen, who is in his 13th NBA season, started a third consecutive game for the first time in his career. … Miami featured its 13th different starting lineup in 28 games this season: Andersen, F Luol Deng and F Shawne Williams and G Mario Chalmers and G Norris Cole.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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