The Miami Heat have two scenarios that they end up with the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. The first is simple, but not easy: win this game against the Boston Celtics. The second is to also have the Atlanta Hawks lose when they visit the Washington Wizards. That would create a three-way tie between the Hawks, Heat and Celtics and Miami wins that tie-breaker.
But the task at hand is to beat the Celtics. And there is possibility that the Heat could lose this game and then end up in Boston for Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs this weekend.
The Celtics have lost their last two games to the Hawks and Hornets before winning their previous four. Their last game against Charlotte was a route at home. But Boston has beat the Heat twice this season and they do it with their defense. Miami has struggled to score, yet to reach 100 points against Boston.
With the Heat on the back-side of a back-to-back, it is necessary for them to find a way to bring the appropriate energy that this game deserves.
Miami Heat (48-33) @ Boston Celtics (47-34)
8:00 PM EST @ TD Garden
TV: ESPN, Sun Sports Heat / Radio: ESPN Radio, 790
Miami -- Justise Winslow (ankle), day-to-day; Udonis Haslem (foot), questionable; Tyler Johnson (shoulder), OUT; Chris Bosh (illness), OUT
Boston -- No injured players
|Goran Dragic||PG||Isaiah Thomas|
|Dwyane Wade||SG||Avery Bradley|
|Joe Johnson||SF||Jae Crowder|
|Luol Deng||PF||Amir Johnson|
|Hassan Whiteside||C||Jared Sullinger|
3 Keys to the Game
1: Score in the paint. The Celtics have some great perimeter defenders, so life won't be easy for D-Wade or Cool Joe. But Whiteside and Dragic should be able to score in the pain routinely if they play this game right. The Heat need to get 50+ points in the pain to have control of this game.
2: Never sleep in Isaiah Thomas. He will come alive and light up the crowd. This is national TV and home court is at stake for these teams. Even if the Heat contain him for a while, the can never let up their pressure on Thomas, he can change the game quickly.
3: Take care of the ball. The Celtics are a great team at creating turnovers and steals. The Heat didn't have a great track record in Detroit with this. Miami needs to limit careless turnovers and live ball change of possessions need to be in their favor. If Miami stays under 10 turnovers, they are going to be in good shape on the road.
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