Boston Celtics at Miami Heat game preview
Unless Luol Deng has a very good morning, the Miami Heat will start Gerald Green in his place again.
After turning in his best performance of the season, Green is expected to continue filling in for the injured Deng as the Heat host the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
Deng has missed two games with a strained left hamstring, and he’s not expected to return yet.
"I hope that I magically wake up and I feel great," said Deng, who is averaging 10.3 points.
Barring that, Green will get a third straight start. He earned it after scoring a season-high 25 points while hitting 8 of 14 from the floor in Friday’s 97-78 win at New York. He was also effective defending Carmelo Anthony, who missed his final eight shots and finished with 11 points.
Deng wasn’t surprised by Green’s defensive effort.
"We know Gerald can do that," he said. "Any time you can put him out there and he can get you 20. He’s a great scorer. He gives us a different look. We said it from the start that this is a deep team. It’s good that when guys are out or not playing great that we got guys who are ready to step up."
That hasn’t always been the case with Green, who is on his eighth team since being drafted 18th overall by Boston in 2005. He’s missed six games this season after being hospitalized following an incident at his apartment. He was suspended by the Heat (10-5) for two of those for conduct detrimental to the team.
"What I do have to do, which is a requirement to wear this jersey, is to go out there and keep playing defense and that’s what I’m going to do," Green said.
That attitude fits in with Miami yielding an Eastern Conference-best 91.7 points per game, a big reason the team is atop the Southeast Division and 8-2 at home.
Dwyane Wade is averaging 22.3 points during the Heat’s three-game home winning streak. He scored 34 while connecting on 13 of 23 from the field, but that wasn’t enough in a 100-90 home loss to the Celtics (9-8) on March 9.
Boston is trying to avoid its first four-game road losing streak since Dec. 21-Jan. 3.
The Celtics are surrendering an average of 114.0 points and 51.6 percent shooting — 40.6 from long range — over the last three games, and they’re 0-7 overall when opponents reach the century mark.
After allowing a total of 158 points in home wins over Philadelphia and Washington, Boston fell apart in Sunday’s opener of this five-game trip. The team shot 40.9 percent from the field and 18.5 from beyond the arc while getting outrebounded 54-34 in a 110-91 loss at Orlando.
"It’s not just one guy, all five guys on the court were lacking," said forward Jae Crowder, who had 12 points. "They came up with every loose ball and every offensive rebound they got, they scored on or so it seemed. We have to get better on that."
Isaiah Thomas leads Boston with 21.2 points per game, but he’s totaled 34 while making 10 of 29 from the floor over the last two on the road. The guard scored 25 points at Miami in March but only mustered four in a 93-86 home defeat later that month.