(Sports Network) - The battle for the second seed in the Eastern Conference
will begin this afternoon in downtown Miami, where the Heat will take on the
despised Boston Celtics from AmericanAirlines Arena.
Both the Heat and Celtics are locked in at the No. 2 spot in the conference
standings with three games remaining in the regular season. Boston, the
defending Eastern Conference champion, has beaten Miami three times already
this season and looks to sweep the series for a second straight year and for
the third time in the past four.
The Celtics have won eight in a row and 14 of the past 15 meetings with the
Heat, losers in three straight and seven of eight as the host in this series.
Boston stumbled a bit at the end of March, but has come on strong with three
wins in its last four games, including a 104-88 victory over Washington on
Friday night. Paul Pierce finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Rajon Rondo
posted 20 points with 14 assists and six steals, and Nenad Krstic scored 17
points for the Atlantic Division-champion Celtics. Boston shot 50.7 percent
from the field and got 13 points from Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett added 15 and 11
rebounds in the all-around effort.
"Yeah, that's nice to see," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said regarding all of his
starters finishing in double figures. "I thought everyone offensively was
pretty good. I think we shot 50 percent; we did. Just a good rhythm for most
of the game."
Rivers' squad will also visit the Wizards before closing out the regular
season next week versus New York in Beantown. Boston is 23-16 away from TD
Garden this season and is still toiling without center Shaquille O'Neal
because of a calf strain. O'Neal is not expected to play Sunday.
Miami is enjoying some recent success, having won 12 of its last 15 games to
make a run at the second slot in the East. In a 112-103 victory versus
Charlotte on Friday night, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh both scored 27 points
and LeBron James added 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the
Heat, who shot 56.5 percent for the game.
Wade was back in action after missing Wednesday's loss to Milwaukee with a
"I was just being aggressive," Wade said. "I did have a little fatigue from
being out a couple days. While I am out there I just want to work as hard as
The Southeast Division-champion Heat are 1-1 on a three-game homestand and
29-11 in south Florida this season. They will close out the regular season
with back-to-back road games in Atlanta and Toronto.
The Sports Network