GAME PREVIEW (via STATS LLC)
Even though their number of available bodies continues to dwindle, the Miami Heat aren't letting injuries become an excuse for failure as they fight for an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
While they have six players either out or questionable, the Heat will try to extend their longest home winning streak of the season to four Monday night when they take on the Boston Celtics.
Miami signed Michael Beasley to a second 10-day contract out of necessity Sunday with Chris Bosh (blood clots) and Josh McRoberts (knee) out for the season and Luol Deng (thigh), Goran Dragic (back), Hassan Whiteside (ankle) and Udonis Haslem (knee) likely game-time decisions versus Boston.
The rash of injuries has caused the Heat to go just nine deep in each of their last two games, but it certainly isn't keeping the club from competing. After nearly rallying from a 35-point deficit in Friday's 99-97 loss at Washington, the Heat stormed back from a 16-point hole in Saturday's 114-109 overtime home win over Sacramento.
"We're showing perseverance, man," Beasley said after scoring a season-high 18 against the Kings. "We're literally giving it everything we have -- which isn't a lot right now. But we're showing character, if nothing else."
Dwyane Wade, who sat Friday because of a sore hip, returned with a team-high 28 points as the Heat shot 51.3 percent from the field. Tyler Johnson added 24 and hit a key 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with just under a minute left.
With its third win in four games, Miami (28-34) moved into a tie for eighth place in the tightly-bunched East.
"What we talked about just in the locker room right now, at halftime, before the game, at the walkthrough, was developing this grit and a competitive character," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And this group is showing some grit, where they're not feeling sorry for themselves, they're not making excuses, they're just enjoying the competition."
The Heat, who haven't won four straight at home since late last season, scored 27 points off 22 Sacramento turnovers.
With Wade sidelined both meetings, Miami's defense has also keyed its success against the Celtics. They held them to 39.8 percent shooting in a 100-84 home win Dec. 21 and 37.0 percent in an 83-75 road win Feb. 1.
Boston (25-36) has shot 40 percent or less in four of its last five games coming into this matchup. The club had a 39.3 field-goal percentage and blew an early 20-point lead in Sunday's 103-98 loss at Orlando that snapped a two-game winning streak.
THE BIG STORYLINE (via Chris Forsberg)
This is the first of eight games remaining against a team in direct competition for a final spot in the Eastern Conference. After Sunday's stumble in Orlando, Boston finds itself 2.5 games back of the front runners (Charlotte, Indy, Miami) and won't leave itself much margin for error the rest of the way. The Heat are banged up and may be down a body or two, which will help a Boston team on the second night of a back-to-back and playing without starting shooting guard Avery Bradley.