Preview: Big 3 to return when Heat face off against Celtics Friday night (UPDATE)

USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade plans to return after a six-game hiatus, though the rest of the stars from both teams will once again sit out a late season game.

Yes, old rivals the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics are set to square off Friday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

But what the NBA thought when they were planning the 2012-13 schedule would be a marquee matchup to possibly determine playoff seedings or as a preview of a postseason clash between two Eastern Conference titans will unfortunately be relegated to what Heat fans have been subjected to since the historic winning streak was snapped in Chicago weeks ago. Hey, it could be worse...at least Dwyane Wade is playing in this one after a resting the last six games due to right knee soreness and it's likely to shake off some rust as the postseason is about to go down next weekend. Having said that, Heat fans should not be expecting major minutes from the player formerly known as Flash.

Wade is officially listed as day-to-day, as is his All-Star teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh (who are not expected to play tonight, thought stranger things have happened to this rotation since the loss to the Bulls). Not to be outdone, the Celtics will be resting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well, as they are in the first night of a back-to-back set playing the Florida teams.

The Celtics actually have something to play for as they try to lock up the seventh-seed in the playoffs and look to match up with the New York Knicks in the first round instead of the defending champs. The Heat have already secured the best record in the league and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with their victory over the Washington Wizards.

UPDATE: It's being reported that the Wade will be joined by LeBron James and Chris Bosh tonight while Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem will the night off.

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