Celtics-Heat: Five things you probably weren't thinking about tonight
Five things you probably weren't thinking about tonight
BOSTON – Prior to departing on this quick two-game road swing through Milwaukee and Miami, Kyrie Irving’s love of the road life was apparent.
After watching him slice and dice up a really good Milwaukee Bucks defense on Thursday night, you can see why.
There’s a different kind of energy and excitement on the road that, for a proven veteran like Irving, is needed.
More than that, road games have a way of bringing a team together in ways that can’t be replicated at home.
And for a team with the kind of youth that the Celtics have this season, Irving needs this bonding time as much as his younger teammates do.
“I just wanted them to go out and prove to themselves that they can go out and make an impact on this team and get experience beyond their years,” Irving said. “They’re in new positions. Coming into this season, obviously, with G [Gordon Hayward] going down, the expectations for our team as a collective are really high but individually they have their own expectations which I can appreciate. They’re going to be their own worst critic, but I’m their biggest fan over here.”
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game:
Al Horford was praised for his defense against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Thursday, but he wasn’t alone. In fact, Ojeleye’s defense on the Greek Freak was as good or better in some respects. With Ojeleye defending him, Antetokounmpo failed to back him down into the paint like he wanted to and never got the kind of spacing he was accustomed to having for jumpers. It resulted in him missing three of the four shot attempts he took while being defended by Ojeleye.
This will be Boston’s first meeting against Kelly Olynyk who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat this summer. In addition to stretching the floor with his 3-point shooting skills, Olynyk seemed to consistently be in the right place defensively which as a result, factored into him having a good defensive rating among centers. This season in Miami? Not so much. The 7-footer has a defensive rating of 108.7, which would be a career-worst for the fifth-year big man.
THREE-POINT HEAT CHECK
Hassan Whiteside (knee) being out has been a factor in Miami looking to shoot more 3’s, but they’ve been trending in this direction for a couple years now. In 2016, they averaged 18.0 three-point attempts which ranked 28th in the NBA. And last season, they averaged 27.0 attempts which ranked 12th in the league. After four games, they are taking 31.8 attempts per game which ranks sixth in the NBA.
MIAMI AT HOME
The Celtics are looking to snap Miami’s four-game home winning streak dating to last season (they won the last two home games last season). Although the Heat have failed to make the playoffs two of the past three seasons, Miami still ranks among the best teams at home. In fact, Miami has the 10th-highest winning percentage at home in NBA history. (FYI: the Celtics rank third all-time for those keeping score at home).
JORDAN MICKEY SIGHTING
Kelly Olynyk isn’t the only familiar face the Celtics will see tonight. Boston will also reunite with Jordan Mickey, a 2015 second-round pick of the Celtics. In two seasons with Boston, he appeared in 41 games while averaging 1.4 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. With the Heat, he has appeared in two games while averaging 5.0 points and 6.0 rebounds along with shooting 55.6 percent from the field. He hasn’t played a ton, obviously. But when he has been on the floor for Miami, the former D-League (now Gatorade League) All-star (in 2016) has been productive.