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Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat NBA Pick – January 10th

It’s a big game in South Beach on Thursday night, and not just because the Boston Celtics (25-15) are in town: the Miami Heat are expected to sellout their 400th consecutive.

In the game itself, there’s high stakes involved: Playoff positioning.

Boston comes in below expectations this season, currently sitting in the No. 5 position in the Eastern Conference. Just three months before the NBA Playoffs begin, the Celtics will look to ratchet up the heat (no pun intended) beginning in Miami.

The Heat sit right after Boston in the East in the sixth spot, just five games behind the Celtics in the standings — did I mention this is a big game?

The Miami Heat (19-20) are also in the red now after losing to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night — a tough 103-99 loss at home. Like Boston, the Heat will look to turn up the aggression as well.

Though not a serious championship contender, Miami has had a bright spot in their rotation ever since Dion Waiters returned from ankle surgery, missing the first 35 games of the season. Since Waiters made his return on January 2, he’s averaged 11 points in 17.5 minutes — this in two games off of the bench.

Though happy about Waiters, Miami is still concerned about their All-Star point guard Goran Dragic. He’s been out several weeks now after having knee surgery. Miami will also have to figure out their confusing offense — seven players were in double-digits against the Nuggets on Tuesday, and they still lost.

On Boston’s end, they’re riding a four-game winning streak, and recently got their All-Star Kyrie Irving back from injury — their obvious centerpiece in the middle of a talented roster including players such as Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

As I previously mentioned, Boston will be looking to turn up the heat as the playoffs approach, and signs are pointing to that already happening. On Wednesday, the Celtics put up a blazing 135 points in a blowout win over the Indiana Pacers — their highest-scoring game of the season. It was also the fifth straight game where the Celtics had at least 30 assists.

It should also be mentioned that the Celtics did get off to a slow 7-8 start to kick off the season, they’ve gone 13-5 since December 1. The problem in this game against the Miami Heat, however: They’re on the road. A place where they’re currently 10-10 on, and also remember: Boston is coming off no rest.

Good news for Celtics fans though is that the Heat aren’t the best at home. They currently carry a 9-12 record in Miami, and are a dismal 9-15 when only having a day’s rest.

Injury wise, the Miami Heat are completely healthy other than Dragic being out. No injuries for the Celtics either other than Aron Baynes being out with his left hand.

With both teams coming in with pros, cons and their health for the most part, you know this is going to be a full-out war for NBA Playoffs positioning. Expect the intensity and tension to be high tonight.

INJURY REPORT

BOSTON CELTICS

  • ARON BAYNES: Out Due To Hand (Returns Sometime This Month, No Timetable As Of Yet)

MIAMI HEAT

  • GORAN DRAGIC: Out Due To Knee Surgery (Won’t Be Back Until February)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

BOSTON CELTICS

KYRIE IRVING
t’s going to be interesting to see what happens in these battles when Kyrie Irving (PER: 24.58) goes into the paint against Hassan Whiteside — in both scoring, ball movement and on the glass. In PPG, Irving is putting down 22.6 PPG while shooting an elite 48.9 FG%, and also helping his Celtics teammates light up the scoreboard as well with 6.5 APG. And he may be only a point guard, but he’s also effective in rebounding: He averages 4.8 RPG. It’ll be fun to see if he snabs a board or two from Whiteside.
JAYSON TATUM
Another one who can score, Jayson Tatum has been solid this year putting up 16.2 PPG on the stat sheet — this on an effective 44.8 FG%. Tatum has also been a sight to see battling on the glass, he’s compiled an average of 6.4 RPG for the Boston Celtics. The former Blue Devil is going to provide some “heat” against the Heat tonight, especially considering his 15.74 PER and potential for superstardom — this kid has it. And like Irving, it’ll be interesting to see what happens between Tatum and Whiteside in rebounding.

MIAMI HEAT

HASSAN WHITESIDE
Coming in as the biggest threat towards the Celtics getting a win, Hassan Whiteside is averaging a double-double this season. The big man has been lethal in the paint putting up 12.8 PPG on 51.8 FG%. His biggest contribution is in rebounding, of course, tallying 12.6 RPG for the season thus far. And that’s not all that Whiteside has been hot in, he’s been magnificent on defense this season averaging 2.5 BLKPG. Just a fantastic season that has him compiling a 20.93 PER. Shut-down defense will be desperately needed from Boston.
JOSH RICHARDSON
The 25-year old has been solid this year, but inconsistent. In scoring, Josh Richardson averages 18.1 PPG, but his field goal percentage has been weak at 40.6 FG%. Though not super-effective, he’s left his mark on the glass and in ball movement. In rebounding, he’s tallied a 3.9 RPG average. The numbers are also similar in the assist department, marking up 3.7 APG. Though only at a 14.62 PER, Richardson will be pesky towards the C’s on the scoreboard — obviously the most important part of the game.

CHECK THE NUMBERS

BOSTON CELTICS

In the mainstream statistical categories, Boston has the edge in the majority of them. The Celtics have a +6 edge in points-per-game, putting up a 112.5 tally. They also shoot the ball better than Miami, having a +3 edge hitting 46.1 FG%. A very slight defensive edge, it’s not even worth mentioning, but the Celtics have a number of 105.3 PA. Here’s where things will get interesting for Boston, however, and what could cause problems for a victory: Though small, they have a -2 disadvantage in rebounding. That could increase against a Hassan Whiteside. Boston will need to keep that in-check for an entire 48 minutes.

MIAMI HEAT

Sitting behind the C’s, the Heat post up a 106.3 PPG in offensive production — this off of a below-average figure of 43.8 FG%. In ball protection, Miami sits right with Boston at 105.7 PA. As I previously mentioned though, even though behind all of the other statistics, the Heat do have a fascinating +2 edge in the rebounding game — Miami sits with 47.2 RPG. Now on the glass, more of the pressure will be on Boston to stop Whiteside, but some pressure will also be on him as well  He’ll need to stop players like Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, even a Gordon Hayward, from stealing boards in the paint. Whiteside does that, and Heat win.

POWELL’S PREDICTION

Yes, the Celtics have a lot more firepower than the Heat, but you can expect this to be a tight battle tonight. Hassan Whiteside and the rebounding edge should help to counter Boston’s advantage in the scoring department, but consistent shooting will be needed.

Heat players like Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow will have to shoot consistently tonight in order to keep up with the potency of Boston, especially since it’s looking like they’ve turned things on full-time. If they do that, that will line up things for Whiteside from there. If Whiteside then can contain outside-post players from stealing boards, then Miami should seal the deal for the win.

Here’s the problem though: I don’t see that happening. There’s way too many situations that Miami has to contest with, especially starting with the first one. I don’t see the Heat keeping pace enough with the Celtics at 43.8 FG%. I think the rebounding and home factor keeps Miami close throughout, but Boston gets the win in the end — should be a enjoyable game on national television.

PREDICTION: Boston Celtics 109, Miami Heat 105

My Picks
BOSTON CELTICS -2.5

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