All Star weekend is here, and the Heat arrives at the top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 41-15. The “Heatles” will make their trip out to Los Angeles with James Jones this weekend. It will be interesting to watch them interact with the Boston Celtics as there definitely seems to be a genuine dislike between these two teams. Especially after the February 13th meeting when Rajon Rondo floated around the Heat’s huddle like a bumblebee and Kevin Garnett caught Mike Miller with an elbow to the head while setting a screen on the much lighter guard.
It suffices to say that the Celtics are the Heat’s biggest rival this season. With 7 of the 12 East roster spots belonging to either Boston or Miami, this rivalry will attempt to be put on rest for at least a few quarters during the All-Star game, unless the hatred between the two teams has grown too strong.
For Boston, it all started this past summer. The Celtics, along with the rest of the NBA watched “The Decision” and later had to listen as Lebron James ignited a Miami crowd, declaring to win the next 7 or 8 championships at a preseason pep rally before the Heat had even held a practice. The Defending Eastern Conference Champs did not take too kindly to all of the hype.
As a result, the Celtics have dominated the Heat this year. Beating them in all three contests and it really, for the most part, has not been close. After winning in Miami, Paul Pierce tweeted, “It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis.” A clear shot at Lebron and his “decision.”
In addition to the tweet, in their most recent meeting Kevin Garnett elbowed Mike Miller on a screen causing him to fall down to the hardwood. Dwyane Wade responded with a hard body check on Garnett while he was attempting to get position for a rebound. Garnett deserved the bodycheck and Wade’s reaction is something the Heat is lacking and is in need of.
As Rajon Rondo danced around the Heat’s huddle during a timeout, nobody did anything. Alonzo Mourning would never let something like happen in his huddle without reciprocation. When Udonis Haslem returns this will be less of a problem, but the Heat need to be more aggressive when being challenged. Perhaps more intensity could raise the level of this rivalry to that of the Pistons playoff series from a couple years ago, or the Knicks in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Back in those days the Heat did not have the metaphorical bull’s-eye on their back that they do now. This is where this year’s All Star game gets interesting. Do the Heatles get passed up by Rondo? Will Lebron look for KG at the elbow? Does Dwyane kick out to Ray Allen for 3 on the break?
We will obviously have to wait till Sunday for those answers. But the competition between the two rivals will start Saturday with the Footlocker Three Point Contest. The Heat’s James Jones will compete with the Celtic’s Ray Allen and Paul Pierce among others from the league.