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Game 52/66: Heat (37-13) @ Celtics (29-22) Open Thread

 

Miami @ Boston
TD Garden
3:30 ET
ABC

Offensive Efficiency
Boston: 98.6 points/100 possessions (25th)
Miami: 106.7 points/100 possessions (2nd)

Defensive Efficiency
Boston: 96.1 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Miami: 97.4 points allowed/100 possessions (4th)

Probable Miami starters: Mario Chalmers (PG), Dwayne Wade (SG), LeBron James (SF), Chris Bosh (PF), Joel Anthony (C)

Injury Report: Ray Allen is shooting around before the game. No word yet on whether he’ll play.

View From The Opposing Bench: The Heat Index

Thumbnail:
The Boston team that lost to Miami on December 27 bears little resemblance to this one. Injuries have felled the C’s bigs, the starting rotation is smaller and sleeker, and the Celtics are back atop the Atlantic Division. However, the C’s are still maligned for their failure to beat great teams. Today, the Celtics get their first of three April shots at rectifying that against the Miami Heat. Over the last month, a wearied Miami has had its own problems against elite-ish teams, dropping games to OKC, Orlando, Indiana and Chicago. Last year’s playoff win aside, the Celtics are still one of the teams the Heat measure themselves against, so both teams should come out locked in.

Pregame Analysis:
We gathered with our co-conspirators over at ESPN Boston for a little 3-on-3 before today’s game.

Click this to read all our answers, but here’s a sample to tide you over.

2. What will you be focused on in this matchup on Sunday?

Greg Payne: I really want to see how Avery Bradley defends Dwyane Wade. If Ray Allen does return, Bradley won’t see as much time as he has over past handful of games, but I see him as a player who can have a very distinct impact on the game defensively, by helping to slow down Miami’s offensive juggernaut. I highly doubt Boston can stop the Heat completely (who can?), but if Bradley can help to stymie at least a portion of the three-headed monster, the Celtics will have a much better chance of knocking off the Heat.

Ryan DeGama: Something that’s key to a prospective playoff series between these teams: the extent to which Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce can put their offensive imprints on the game. The Celtics need all three of these guys asserting themselves, which means Rondo needs to tear up the hardwood in transition and attack in the half-court, Garnett needs 18+ shots and Pierce needs to be on from the arc and drawing fouls off the dribble. Otherwise, the C’s won’t be able to score enough against Miami’s hyperkinetic defense to win.

Chris Forsberg: Let’s start with turnovers. Boston gave up the ball 24 times (leading to 33 points) in the first meeting and there’s virtually no way you overcome that against a team like the Heat (at least not without having to junk up the game with a zone defense to rally back). Boston has valued the ball far better in the second half of the year and that must continue Sunday. The other focus should be on the glass. For all of that’s made about their height woes, opponents still struggle on the glass against the Heat. Boston built its team last year around trying to win that battle — alas the O’Neals couldn’t stay healthy — but the Celtics have more athleticism now with Garnett at the 5 and that might allow them to be more competitive there.

Prediction:

The Celtics play some of their best basketball of the season but eventually find baskets too hard to come by and the Heat walk away with the win.

Miami 91 Boston 82

  • Anthony

    Watching the NBA halftime show, Magic, Barry, Broussard, and Wilbon isnt even giving the Celts a chance against the Heat. That's upsetting but also good to fly under the radar and sneak up on people.

    Let's see how the Celts will step up.

    • someguyinsac

      Hope they look like April fools and the Celts beat the Heat handily.

      • Mark

        Don't worry, ESPN postgame will be all Heat. I'm sure they'll blur the C's out of every highlight.

        • someguyinsac

          No doubt it'll be a Heap hype heavy handed postgame putting down of the Celtics in every way conceivable.

    • vivek-nj

      its been like that since when ? last year it was lakers lakers lakers. this year not so much. celtics have been playing sedate game. the points are distributed. like this bucks game the bucks announcer was saying 5 players in double digits only 1 paul pierce for celtics but celtics were leading all the way till end.

  • I_Love_Green

    I'm going to miss probably the entire game, so I'm hoping I get good news once I get home tonight.

    Go Celtics!

  • ElRoz

    Ray Allen will not play says ESPN…I hope Doc will use Daniels and Pavlovic off the bench and these guys RESPOND with good defense; and Pavlovic got to take the open jumper when given.

    Ray better be ready after today…otherwise this 15 game stretch will become a nightmare.

  • skeeds

    helloooooo primetime Rondo!!!

  • guest

    As good as they're playing now I don't think they'll win cause Joey Crawford will continue to call really terrible cheap calls on the C's like the one on Steimsma just now…

  • skeeds

    Ok, I might be a bit over-excited by the way we're playing right now, but I haven't seen a guy ridiculing the other team like Rondo is doing tonight since A.I. was in his prime.
    It's not the perfect decision making. It's the pure swagger. He's mocking them right now…

    • Robert

      When Rondo focuses his moodiness/arrogance/attitude/however-want-to-analyze-it towards destroying the other team – in style, it is a beautiful thing to watch.

      Rondo's élan is pretty much unmatched among current players. Particularly his bounce passes. I love the way he snaps the pass off with an exaggerated follow-through. I also love his "grab the ball after a made basket and gently place it near the inbounder" move. "Yea my guy just jammed in your face off my dime, take a picture and frame it"

  • guest

    I take my previous statement back. Unelss there is a colossal collapse we got this one. Rondo has been dropping highlight dime after highlight dime.

  • Robert

    Another day at the primetime office for Rondo.

  • someguyinsac

    That was so good, I'm just speechless.

  • CelticsBIG3

    That was awesome. Put the NBA on notice… Since the allstar break; Chicago 15-4, Boston 15-5

  • Lantrell Walker

    Great win by the C's, awesome to watch today. Everyone expected a good game, but I doubt anyone predicted this. C's slowed the game down & paced themselves as they chocked the life and will out of Miami. Bass played great, Ragin' Rondo made another primetime appearance & the D was top notch. Don't really know what more to say, I'm just really proud of them, just wait until we get Sugar Ray & MP back but nonetheless great win.

    #WeBelieveIn18

  • Anthony

    * Nice to see Rondo finishing layups with english. Haven't seen that in quite a while. No other PG in the league can control the game the way Rondo does. (Yea looking at you CP3 and D-Rose)
    * Stiemsma was a difference maker but still no respect from the ref. Was rooting for him to get back in the game early 3rd quarter and when he did, he helped increase the lead.
    * Love AB's confidence and decision-making. Doesn't try to force anything he can't do, driving hard to the rim, and even knocked down a three. What was Dwade thinking trying to score on AB? Get the crap outta here!
    * Pierce was a bit lackadaisical but played well for the most part.
    * Good to see Bass trying to finish strong at the rim and drawing fouls instead of settling for jumpshots.
    * Lebron was -30!

    Don't want to get too excited as April will be a tough stretch of games.

  • tbunny

    What did I say about this game!

    It was pretty obvious in the third quarter that the Heat were punking out. Thank you Celtics for humiliating them when they chumped out.

    Actually Magic was pretty complementary of the Celtics beforehand. Said that despite their schedule he thought they would win the division and he gave them a good chance against the Heat: said they know how to win and they know how to play against the Heat.

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