By Patrick Whalen
The Celtics have now bounced back from their 3 game losing streak with a 3 game winning streak. They now have a chance to avenge one of those losses from last week as the Miami Heat paid the garden a visit this past Monday for some MLK day hoops action. The Celtics recent play has been fueled by none other than the best guard in the eastern conference, Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has put up some insane numbers as of late averaging 32 points and 11 assists a game during this 3 game win streak. Al Horford has stepped it up as well during the streak averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds over the 3 games. The Celtics would need similar performances tonight to get the win over a Heat team that dominated the Celtics just last week as they won 115-99 down in South Beach. With that memory fresh in their heads the Celtics knew getting out to a fast start would be key in beating the Heat and keeping their perfect 6-0 2019 home record intact.
And off to a hot start they got as the Celtics opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 33-23 at the end of the first quarter. Marcus Morris was the key to hat hot start as he scored 9 points in that first quarter. He would go on to finish with 17 points on 6-11 shooting with 4 rebounds. The Heat did fight back in the second quarter though as the teams went into the half tied at 50. But again the Celtics came out and took it to the Heat in the third outscoring them 37-18 in the quarter. Tatum led the way in this run with 11 points in the third alone. He would finish with 19 points on 8-13 shooting with 6 rebouds. Tatum also capped off the first quarter run with a three of his own.
Tatum and Morris may have got hot during the runs but the one constant all night was the greatness of Kyrie Irving. Irving again had a double double for the third time in four games with 26 points on 11-19 shooting with 10 assists including this absolutely beautiful one to Marcus Smart in the third.
Kyrie also set another new career high this week as he had 8 steals on the night. Of course Irving’s defense immediatly translated to offense many times including this time when he stole it from Dwayne Wade before the end of the half.
Al Horford also kept his hot streak going as well as he a double double of his own. Horford went for 16 points and 12 rebounds including 6 on the offensive end. The Celtics starter played tremendously on both ends of the floor as the average plus minus was a +23 rating. Despite the bench struggling the starters kept the Heat at bay to hold on for a 107-99 win. The Celtics bench struggled shooting tonight but they also had to deal with the top three Heat scorers as they all came in off the bench.
In the loss Derrick Jones Jr and Dion Waiters led the Heat with 18 points each with both players coming in off the bench. Waiters was 8-16 shooting from the floor while Jones was a more efficent 7-12 and also led Miami with 9 rebounds. Waiters and Jones combined actually outscored their starting 5 as they combined for just 33 points on the night. Bam Adebayo also performed well off the bench with 13 points and 7 rebounds. And of course we can’t forget the Miami legend Dwayne Wade. Wade had 8 points and 6 assists in what could possiblely be his second to last visit to the Garden of his career barring any playoff matchup. Celtics fans will be able to give Wade a proper send off for his One Last Dance retirement tour on April 1st as that will be his last regular season game at the Garden. Of course its also important to mention who got Dwayne’s jersey on Monday. Last game Terry Rozier and Wade exchanged their jerseys down in Miami. This time Marcus Morris had the honor of swapping jerseys with the Heat and NBA legend.
Up next for the Celtics is the worst team in the NBA the Cleveland Cavaliers. This game at home should be another classic Celtics blowout win. With everyone clicking it will be a fun game to watch and we all know how amped up Kyrie still gets for this matchup. After that the Celtics wont play again until Saturday when the Golden State Warriors come to town. The Celtics now sit at 29-18 on the season with a 4 game win streak still going. They still remain 6 games back of Toronto but if they stay hot they could make up that ground in no time and throw themsleves right back up in the conversation for the eastern conference 1 seed come playoff time. Lets just hope the Celtics can handle business with the Cavs and get ready for what should be a fun and entertaining game agianst Golden State on Saturday night.
Also remember to keep sending in those votes for all your favorite Celtics for this years NBA All Star game. Hit that link below and lets get Charlotte covered in green for All Star weekend.