Dwyane Wade Shines as Heat Cruise Past Celtics Despite Kyrie Irving’s 22 Points | Bleacher Report

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 10: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics on January 10, 2019 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Miami Heat are back to the .500 mark. 

Dwyane Wade poured in a 19-point vintage performance off the bench and Josh Richardson added 18, leading the Heat to a 115-99 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for Boston, which had gone on a streak during its homestand. The Celtics (25-16) have lost four of their last five road games to drop to 10-11 away from Boston. 

Miami (20-20) entered as losers of two straight games, dropping the team to the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff race. 

Kyrie Irving‘s 22 points led the way for the Celtics. Marcus Smart (18 points), Marcus Morris (17 points) and Jayson Tatum (17 points) were also in double figures. 

      

Celtics Need To Solve Road Woes to Contend for Title

The Celtics, at home, play like a title contender. They have the league’s third-best home net rating. They trail only the Milwaukee Bucks, who are built like a regular-season juggernaut, and the Denver Nuggets, one of the league’s best home teams.

Every team fares worse on the road, but the Celtics dropped to 10-11 away from TD Garden on Thursday. That’s the same road record as the Brooklyn Nets and worse than the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers, their top competitors at the top of the conference. 

The good news: The numbers say the Celtics’ road woes are a little overstated. Boston had the fourth-best road net rating coming into Thursday. Only the Warriors, Bucks and Thunder have better numbers. That would indicate the Celtics have been unlucky outside of Boston.

The bad news: Thursday’s loss was ugly enough to muddy those numbers. The Celtics will certainly fall behind Toronto for fifth in the league and could drop as low as seventh when the final numbers come out.

Regardless, all that ultimately matters is win-loss record, and the Celtics are failing mightily to get the job done on the road. 

       

Heat Should Attempt to Trade Goran Dragic

A quick test to show if a “star” is expendable: How much do they miss him when he’s gone?

In the Heat’s case, they don’t really miss Dragic a whole lot. Miami would obviously be a better team with him on the floor. The Heat score at a higher rate and shoot a better percentage when he’s been on the floor this season. He does a lot of things well—just none exceptionally.

The Heat have performed about as well with Justise Winslow taking over lead ball-handling duties as they were with Dragic. Miami’s assist rate goes up, its turnovers go down and its defense is better with Dragic on the bench. The bump he gives them offensively is a near-wash, and Winslow has flourished in his new point-forward role. 

The Heat are clearly at a point they need to pivot. This is an expensive team headed nowhere. Dragic is by far their most tradable asset and has a target return date of the All-Star break in mid-February. His knee injury complicates things, as any team giving up assets will have to sign off on his health. 

If Dragic gets clearance around the Feb. 7 deadline, the Heat should try hard to float his name in talks—perhaps to a team willing to take back Dion Waiters’ contract. Dragic is a solid enough guard that he could help a number of playoff teams if they find the matching salaries or a third team to get the deal done.

What’s clear is the Heat can afford to move on without Dragic, who has a player option for next season. If a team gets desperate enough to take some bad salary off their hands, the Heat should jump at the opportunity. 

What’s Next? 

The Celtics continue their road trip Saturday night in Orlando. The Heat host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

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