The Boston Celtics won their third game in a row as they left the MECCA with a 96-89 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. All-Stars Al Horford (27 points, nine rebounds) and Kyrie Irving (24 points, seven assists) led the way for the Celtics offense. Meanwhile, they did a good enough job on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was limited to under 30 points for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat were blown out at home by the San Antonio Spurs, 117-100, to drop to 2-2 on the season. The Heat played their third game in a row without star big man Hassan Whiteside.
James Johnson led the team with 21 points and nine rebounds, while the starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters chipped in with 37 points combined. However, they simply had no answers for the Spurs, who shot 55 percent from the floor and won the rebounding battle, 44-32.
Three keys to the game
Heat defense – Miami have been struggling defensively in the early going this season. A top-five defensive unit overall last season, they are currently in the bottom-third in the league through four games. They’ll need to raise their game if they want to contain a Celtics offense that’s slowly finding its groove without Gordon Hayward.
Celtics defense – The Celtics offense hasn’t been the efficient machine that many hoped it would be with Hayward. Instead, they’ve been winning through some surprisingly strong defense. They’re currently second in defensive efficiency and have been very good in terms of cleaning up the defensive glass.
Frontcourt battle – With Whiteside still out, the Heat lose a significant advantage they might've had over the Celtics. It remains to be seen whether the likes of James Johnson, former Celtic Kelly Olynyk, and rookie Bam Adebayo have enough to keep pace with the Celtics' impressive frontline led by Horford, which has been playing very well thus far.
Matchup to watch
Kyrie Irving vs Goran Dragic – Irving is coming off arguably his best game yet in a Celtics jersey with 24 points and seven assists against the Bucks. His efficiency has been off for the most part, but he can still put points on the board in a hurry. That’s why Dragic must do his best to play Irving to a draw in their marquee matchup. The Slovenian star is having a strong start to the season, averaging just a shade under 20 points per game.
Celtics projected starting lineup
PG – Kyrie Irving | SG – Jaylen Brown | SF – Jayson Tatum | PF – Al Horford | C – Aron Baynes
Heat projected starting lineup
PG – Goran Dragic | SG – Dion Waiters | SF – Josh Richardson | PF – James Johnson | C – Bam Adebayo
Jaylen Brown had a rough shooting night against the Bucks, going just 2-of-10 for eight points. Brown’s shooting remains pretty inconsistent from game to game, but he’s shown he’s capable of coming up with some huge performances. He’ll have a great opportunity to bounce back tonight against Dion Waiters and the Heat, who are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points against opposing shooting guards this season.
Even assuming Whiteside returns and is fairly effective, the Celtics may have the edge in this matchup. Their defense is far and away the best thing either team can do at the moment. That, coupled with just enough offensive weapons, should be enough to see them get the win as 1.5-point road favorites.
The Celtics have too much for the Heat and they extend their win streak with a 105-100 victory on the road.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Sun and NBC Sports Boston. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm ET.
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