DALLAS (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat will take their recent string of success on the road and face an up-and-coming center trying to make a name for himself.
Nerlens Noel was openly critical of the Philadelphia 76ers’ plan of keeping three or more centers on the roster and sharing time among the highly-touted big men, and he is finally getting a chance to make some noise on his own.
Noel will try to continue a hot start with his new team when the Dallas Mavericks host the Miami Heat on Monday.
Noel was sent from Philadelphia to the Mavericks in front of Thursday’s deadline and delivered nine points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench in his team debut on Saturday – a 96-83 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Oh man, I think it’s a very fresh start,” Noel, who did not get in a practice with the team before Saturday’s game and is expected to start in the future, told reporters. “Probably was needed.”
Noel made an impression against New Orleans’ twin towers of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in that win and will get another big challenge in the middle on Monday from Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, who put up 22 points and 17 rebounds in a 113-95 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
That marked the 16th win in the last 18 games for the Heat, who have crept into ninth place in the Eastern Conference and will play nine of 12 at home after finishing up with Dallas.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE HEAT (27-32): Whiteside, who leads the NBA in rebounding (14.1) and is fourth in blocks (2.1) was left off the East’s All-Star squad and managed just two points on 1-of-9 shooting in the first game back from the break on Friday before finding his footing on Saturday.
“Hassan got every single rebound way over the top,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “He was good on pick-and-roll defense, setting screens, being active. It was great to see him make a lot of winning plays.”
Whiteside grabbed at least 16 rebounds in six of the last 10 games and is averaging 15.5 boards in the span.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (23-35): Dallas is trying to make a run at a playoff spot as well and gained a game over one of its direct competitors for the No. 8 spot with Saturday’s win.
The Mavericks began starting a small lineup when Andrew Bogut, who was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Noel, struggled to stay healthy, and Dirk Nowitzki delivered 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and nine rebounds as the starting big man on Saturday.
The starting point guard spot got sorted out when Deron Williams was waived over the weekend, and rookie Yogi Ferrell overcame a poor shooting performance by matching a season high with seven assists on Saturday.
- Mavericks SF Dorian Finney-Smith scored 12 points on Saturday – matching his total from the previous seven games.
- Heat PF Willie Reed (calf) left Saturday’s game and is day-to-day.
- Miami took the last three in the series, including a 99-95 home win on Jan. 19.
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