The red-hot Boston Celtics will aim for a second consecutive win over the Miami Heat and their sixth straight win overall on Friday when the two teams meet again in Boston.
The Celtics picked up their 14th win in the past 15 games on Wednesday, cruising past Miami, 134-121. Jayson Tatum scored 49 points on 15-of-25 shooting from the floor, including 8-of-12 from beyond the 3-point arc, to go along with 11 rebounds.
It was Tatum’s third game of at least 40 points on the season, and his fourth in a row netting at least 30 points. He is averaging 31.6 points per game ahead of Friday’s return match with Miami.
“There’s about 15 or 18 points a game he’s getting just because of what he’s doing without the ball,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of Tatum postgame. “(Tatum’s scoring) is just as much about that.”
With Tatum steering the ship offensively, Boston is leading the NBA in scoring (121.9 points per game). The Celtics will look to keep their prolific offense rolling against one of the league’s better defensive teams — the Heat are holding opponents to 110 points per game despite Wednesday’s outcome — and close out a perfect six-game homestand.
The Celtics hit the road for six straight after this game and will not play at home again until Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, Miami enters the home stretch of its second four-game road swing in its past 10 games. The Heat played four straight on the road Nov. 16-21, losing all four while dealing with a bevy of holes in the lineup.
After winning three straight, including last Sunday’s opening game in this second road swing in Atlanta, Miami inched back toward .500 for the season before Wednesday’s setback dropped it to 10-12.
Six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, who has missed the past seven games with a knee injury, could return to the lineup on Friday. The versatile Butler is averaging 20.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season, and he is a catalyst of the Miami defense.
“He’s one of the best players in the league. How can you not want him on the floor with us?” teammate Max Strus said, per the Sun Sentinel. “Hopefully, he can come back. We’re all excited for him to come back, and we can use him out there, for sure.”
Bam Adebayo, who missed the first two games in Miami’s recent four-game swoon, has carried the scoring load recently with back-to-back games of 38 points Nov. 25 against Washington, and 32 points last Sunday at Atlanta.
Adebayo finished with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists in Wednesday’s loss but was ejected late after drawing two technical fouls after arguing with officials. He later was critical that Boston attempted 23 free throws while Miami only took nine.
Miami made all nine, while the Celtics went 20 of 23 from the line.
–Field Level Media