A potential playoff matchup takes center stage as the Boston Celtics (40-38) travel down to South Beach to face their rivals in the Miami Heat (62-16) Friday night. The game tips off at 7:30 pm ET from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida and will be nationally televised on NBA TV. In addition, Comcast Sports Net – New England and SUN Sports will provide regional coverage. The Heat are currently listed as 13-point favorites with the over/under set at 194.
The Celtics finished a four game homestand 2-2 after Wednesday’s 101-93 loss to Brooklyn. Paul Pierce led four Celtics in double figures with 23 points. Kevin Garnett and Jeff Green (4 of 17 from the field) each had 11 points while Brandon Bass chipped in 10. Boston shot 45.7 percent from the field, including 6 of 16 from three point range and committed 13 turnovers leading to 20 Brooklyn points. The difference in the game was at the line: Boston hit 13 of 17 while Brooklyn was 25 of 28 at the stripe.
Boston is 19th in the league in scoring offense, averaging 96.2 points per game. The loss of Rajon Rondo (13.7 points, league-leading 11.1 assists) has hurt the Celtics and taken away one of their double figure scorers. Including Rondo and Jordan Crawford (11.4 points per game this season, 8.1 in 24 games with Boston), the Celtics have six players that hit that mark. Pierce leads the team, scoring 18.8 points and grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game. Garnett scores 14.8 points and grabs a team-high 7.8 rebounds. Green (12.6 points) and Jason Terry (10.2 points) are usually the first names off the bench for Doc Rivers.
Boston needs more production out of guys like Bass, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Chris Wilcox. Boston is an aging roster that needs a youth infusion. The Celtics still are stingy defensively, ranking 10th in the league allowing opponents 96.5 points per game but struggle rebounding the ball, ranking next to last with an average of 39.4 boards a game.
Despite playing without Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James or Udonis Haslem, the Heat had enough to win their fourth straight, 103-98 over Washington. Ray Allen led five Miami players in double figures with 23 off the bench. Rashard Lewis scored 17, Shane Battier had 15, Mike Miller added 14 and Mario Chalmers chipped in 13 for Miami, who shot 44 percent from the field but took more three point shots (17 of 41) than two pointers (16 of 34) in the contest. They did beat Washington on the glass, 47-34.
Miami is 5th in the league in scoring, averaging 102.8 points per game. Miami has four players in double figures, led by James, who leads the team in points (26.9, fourth in the league), rebounds (8.1) and assists (7.2) per game. Wade averages 21.3 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game while Bosh completes the Big Three with 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. Allen is the only other player in double figures for Miami this season with 11 points per game.
The Heat have Chalmers, Battier, Norris Cole, the returning Miller and Haslem as other options but the bulk of the offense runs through Bosh, James and Wade. Miami is 6th in the league in scoring defense, allowing opponents 95 points per game but they rank dead last in the league in rebounding, collecting 38.5 per contest.
Head to Head Matchup
Boston leads the all-time regular season series 59-39. The Celtics have won 12 of 16 meetings but Miami has won two of three this season.
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