Shorthanded Heat down Celtics in absences of Wade, Bosh

Ira Winderman
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun Sentinel
Knee injury keeps Wade out against Celtics

They are the three words in the same sentence that make Miami Heat fans cringe: Wade. Knee. Sidelined.

Sunday, for the first time this season, that was the case, with Dwyane Wade sidelined against the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena due to a bruised right knee.

For a night, the Heat survived, finally getting a breakthrough on this seven-game homestand, with a 100-84 victory in a game also played in the injury absences of Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Hassan Whiteside.

With the Celtics still finding their way in the wake last week's trade of Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat's collection of complementary players proved to be enough, as Erik Spoelstra unveiled his 13th starting lineup of the season, ninth in the last 13 games.

Luol Deng lead the Heat with 23 points, moving into the lead role the Heat hoped he would never have to take.

There was plenty in support, as well, contributions across the board, from the likes of James Ennis, Udonis Haslem, Shawne Williams, Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, even Danny Granger.

"Everybody had a positive impact tonight," Spoelstra said. "It was good to see guys show real cohesiveness when we could have felt sorry for ourselves."

Wade sat out with the bruise first sustained during Wednesday's loss to the Utah Jazz and exacerbated in Friday's loss to the Washington Wizards, the two losses that opened this homestand.

It was the first game Wade missed this season due to a knee issue, after missing seven due to a hamstring injury.

"We just figured it would be best to give him some extra rest," Spoelstra said. "We'll evaluate him and see how he feels [Monday]."

The Heat also were without Whiteside, who had to have two toenails extracted after an incident Friday with Wizards power forward Nene.

Then there was Bosh, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a strained left calf, and McRoberts, who is scheduled for likely season-ending knee surgery this week.

That had the Heat opening with a starting backcourt of Chalmers and Cole, with the lineup rounded out by Andersen, Deng and Williams.

"They hurt us and played above their averages," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of a Heat supporting cast that did more than support. "They played really well and really fast."

The Heat's energy came on both sides, limiting the Celtics to .398 shooting, with 20 points scored off Boston turnovers.

"The guys just really banded together and a gave a tough-minded, spirited effort," Spoelstra said. "I like seeing that."

Wade missed 28 games last season, most due to a knee maintenance program. That approach was dropped in the offseason after the free-agency departure of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bosh said before Sunday's game that he was hopeful of a possible return for Thursday's nationally televised game against James and the Cavaliers on Christmas Day.

The Heat next play on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, the fourth game on this seven-game homestand.

Despite playing in the void of their stars, the Heat offered cohesion the Celtics couldn't match.

"I don't think we kept up with their speed," Stevens said. "The ball was whipping around, even without Wade and Bosh."

The Heat pushed to a 10-point first-quarter lead and went into the second quarter up 28-21, shooting .571 from the field in the opening period.

After extending their lead to 15 in the second period, the Heat went into the intermission up 52-42 and then into the fourth quarter up 72-61.

The Heat entered 4-9 at home this season, with losses in eight of their previous nine home games.

The Celtics entered on a three-game winning streak, coming off Friday's 114-98 victory over the Timberwolves.

"When injuries strike," Chalmers said, "you just have to be closer as a group."

iwinderman@tribpub.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman.

 

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