Struggling Boston Celtics Fall To Shorthanded Miami Heat

Today’s matinee game in Boston was a low-scoring and, at times, sloppy exchange of runs. In the end, the visiting Miami Heat prevailed, much thanks to Hassan Whiteside’s 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

The Heat was without two of their regular starters, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng. Deng was out for the third game in a row, while Wade got injured in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks last Tuesday and has a two week timetable for his return. The Heat lost both against the Bucks and against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

This should have given the Celtics a decent chance to win the game, but it seemed like they were hurt by an injury to veteran Tayshaun Prince, who has been playing very well in his so far eight games for the team. Prince had to withdraw with a hip flexor only ten minutes before tip-off. According to head coach Brad Stevens, Prince would have played a lot of minutes otherwise. Prince is with the team that traveled to New York right after the game to play against the Knicks on Tuesday.

The Celtics had problems finding the bottom of the net, especially in the first half. They had only 31 points after two quarters and were behind by 13 at half time.

This season’s sensation, center Hassan Whiteside didn’t have much of an impact until the end of the third quarter. The Celtics had just finished a run to equalize the game at 55 with less than three minutes left in the quarter. Whiteside made the Heat’s last four points of the third quarter and the first six in the fourth, reestablishing the lead at eight points.

The Celtics never got closer than six points for the rest of the game, though they had the chance with one minute and 29 seconds left, when Marcus Smart stole the ball on the Heat’s inbounds play right after Tyler Zeller had made a free throw to cut the lead to 80-74. But on what looked like a close call, Avery Bradley made a turnover by stepping out of bounds. The game was decided when Norris Cole scored on the following possession for the Heat with only a minute and one second left. The Miami Heat won, 83-75.

Neither team was particularly effective on offense. Miami Heat were slightly better, hitting 41.6 percent of their shots, but only 19 percent from three-point range, while the Boston Celtics only hit 37 percent of all shots and 21.1 percent behind the arc.

Both teams only had three players in double figures. Heat’s Whiteside led all scorers with 20 points, while Chris Bosh chipped in with 18 points, and rookie Tyler Johnson scored 13 points in only his third NBA game, a new career-high. For Boston, Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley each scored 17 points, while Brandon Bass added 15 points and six rebounds.

The Celtics have now lost three games in a row and seem to have lost any momentum they might have carried over from their recent six game road trip in the West coast. Meanwhile, Miami Heat will be happy to have taken a win without Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade to stop the losing streak.

Miami remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games ahead of the lottery field headed by the Brooklyn Nets. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics are now 3.5 games behind the eighth placed Charlotte Hornets in the conference and only three games ahead of 13th placed Orlando Magic.