MIAMI — The day began with Erik Spoelstra listing the names on a long Heat injury report after shootaround.
And Monday didn’t get much better for the Heat, as the day ended with Boston (10-7) defeating Miami 112-104 at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat will leave for their three-game road trip with a 5-12 record.
It was a struggle for Miami to find any offense in the first half. The Heat entered halftime with 31 points on 37.8 percent shooting and trailing by 17 points.
“We weren’t really well organized,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Miami’s first half. “Guys have their hearts in the right place. It’s almost like guys were trying to really will it in that second quarter. That’s now how this team is built to go play like that. It has to be five-man, team basketball, get organized, run an action and play off actions and share the ball.”
Miami’s offense came to life in the third quarter, scoring 42 points. But it wasn’t enough, as the Celtics were able to keep their double-digit lead for most of the second half despite not having center Al Horford due to personal reasons.
Here are our five takeaways from the game …
1. Got three-pointers?: The Heat missed their first 14 shots from three-point range against the Celtics. Josh Richardson hit Miami’s first three of the game with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter. Miami isn’t a terrible three-point shooting team, as it entered Monday’s game ranked 19th in three-point percentage (33.8 percent). But the Heat were terrible from long range against the Celtics, making 6-of-30 three-point shots. Miami had made 34.1 percent of its threes over the three games preceding Monday’s contest.
2. Hassan Whiteside is not 100 percent, but he’s healthy enough: The good news for the Heat is that Hassan Whiteside was able to play against the Celtics despite being listed as questionable due to a sore left knee. Even more good news for the Heat, an MRI on Whiteside’s knee came back “totally clear,” according to Erik Spoelstra. The bad news for the Heat is that Whiteside seemed to be moving gingerly on the sore knee to start Monday’s game. He attempted his first shot of the game with 3:42 remaining in the first half. The 27-year-old looked a lot more comfortable as the game went on, though. Whiteside found a way to finish with 25 points and 17 rebounds. With Miami set to begin a three-game road trip in Denver on Wednesday, Whiteside’s status for the upcoming stretch will be worth keeping an eye on.
“It was stiff in the early going,” Whiteside said of his knee. “I had to get a little loose. Once I got it warm, I was back to myself.”
3. Goran Dragic is back: It didn’t take long for Heat point guard Goran Dragic to prove he was healthy Monday. After missing two games with a strained left elbow, Dragic returned against the Celtics. He used the injured elbow to shoot most of his shots and he was very effective. Dragic finished with a season-high 27 points and 17 assists (most assists he’s recorded as a member of the Heat). After scoring six points on 1-of-7 shooting as he played through the injury against the Pistons on Wednesday, it was clear right away Monday that rest helped Dragic get the soreness out of his elbow.
But Dragic’s big night didn’t leave him feeling satisfied after the loss.
“Give me 10 points and a win, I’ll take that immediately,” Dragic said. “I’ve already proven in this league that I can score. That doesn’t mean nothing to me. We just need to continue to grow and get better. We have so many times we’re not focused enough and in those five minutes we don’t know what we’re doing, if I’m honest.”
4. Rodney McGruder right in middle of Spoelstra’s rotation: Yes, the Heat were shorthanded. Yes, guards Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson did not play due to injuries Monday. But the fact that guard Rodney McGruder played 38 minutes against Boston shouldn’t be overlooked. McGruder, who earned Miami’s final roster spot in the preseason, has now logged more than 30 minutes of playing time in four consecutive games. He has a consistent role on this Heat team and he’s making the most of his opportunity. McGruder is averaging 11 points per game on 33 points on 51.4 percent shooting over the past four games.
5. Josh Richardson heating up: It’s been an up-and-down season for Josh Richardson on his road back from a partially torn MCL in his right knee. The injury forced him to miss training camp, the preseason and the first four games of the season. But it looks like Richardson is starting to get his three-point shot back. He’s made 10-of-22 threes over the past three games. Richardson finished Monday’s game with 12 points. He is now shooting 36.2 percent from three-point range this season.