The NBA point spread on Monday night's Celtics at Heat game in south Florida is likely to be in flux all day because one key Boston player is out for sure and at least a few Miami guys are as well.
As of this writing, Boston is a 4-point favorite on NBA odds in Miami, but the Celtics will be without big man Al Horford, the team's big free-agent acquisition this offseason. He has left the team to be with his wife, who is about to give birth to the couple's second child. The Celtics (9-7) are 4-5 without Horford, who has missed nine games this season due to a concussion. Horford is averaging 14.7 points on 52.4 percent shooting to go with 6.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists in his first season with Boston. Horford has really made a difference defensively as Boston is holding opponents to 40 percent shooting with Horford on the court this year, 6.8 percent lower than its opponents' usual shooting percentage.
But I wouldn't go jumping on the Heat just yet. Guards Tyler Johnson (oral surgery) and Dion Waiters (groin) have both been ruled out. Point guard Goran Dragic is questionable with an elbow injury, although he almost has to play now with Johnson and Waiters sitting. And center Hassan Whiteside is also questionable with left knee soreness. Whiteside has led the Heat in rebounds in each of the 16 games this season, the longest overall streak in franchise history. He also has blocked at least one shot in 45 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA since Marcus Camby in 2007-08. On the season, Whiteside is averaging 16.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
Last season Boston swept the season series with the Heat 3-0. The C's are 5-1 ATS on NBA picks in their past six trips to Miami.