MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat have appeared to be figuring things out lately.
Isaiah Thomas is back in the fold for the Boston Celtics, and with the team winding through a challenging portion of the schedule the timing could not be better.
Thomas leads the Celtics into the opener of a three-game road trip when they visit Miami on Sunday.
After missing four games (1-3) with a groin injury, Thomas showed no rust while scoring 26 points in a 96-88 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, giving his team a much-needed jolt.
“It helps all of us just because it opens the floor even more. Teams have to play us a little more honest,” center Al Horford told reporters of having Thomas on the floor. “It’s just good to have him back.”
The Heat won the first two games of their season-high six-game homestand before falling 102-98 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Boston, which plays five of its next seven on the road – including a visit to Cleveland – while hosting Memphis and Oklahoma City, picked up a 112-104 victory at Miami on Nov. 28, riding Thomas (25 points, eight assists) to its fourth consecutive triumph in the rivalry.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (14-12): Horford’s season has been interrupted by a concussion and then the birth of a child but he seems to finally be settling in and is averaging 17.1 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists this month.
The big man had five blocked shots against the Hornets and has a career-high pace in that category with 2.4 per game.
Horford missed the win at Miami earlier this season, when fellow centers Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk combined for 24 points and 13 boards.
ABOUT THE HEAT (9-18): Hassan Whiteside’s double-double streak is at three and he needs one more to tie Shaquille O’Neal (84) for ninth on the career franchise list, as well as three blocked shots to move past Joel Anthony (456) for fourth in Miami history.
He went for 25 points and 17 rebounds against Boston last month while making 10-of-13 shots.
Point guard Goran Drajic had a double-double of his own against the Clippers with 21 points and 11 assists and he is averaging 21.points and 8.3 assists in a four-game span.
- Heat SG Tyler Johnson missed Friday’s loss due to an illness while SG Dion Waiters (groin) sat for the 11th straight time.
- Boston is 7-3 on the road against Eastern Conference opponents.
- Thomas has scored at least 20 points in 10 consecutive games.
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