Tuesday and Thursday await familiar faces and playoff implications, and Dwyane Wade will be in the lineup. Miami is two games behind Chicago for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and the NBA for that matter. They fly to the Windy City on Thursday, but don’t think for one second that they’re overlooking the final game of their home stretch.
Boston comes to town and revenge is in the air. When Ray Allen sat out because of an ankle injury, the Celtics caught stride and refuse to fix what’s working. They’ve won nine of their last 12 games, and Allen has been coming off the pine with Avery Bradley starting at shooting guard. Bradley is known for his on-ball pressure defensively, but he’s taking advantage by averaging just under 13 points per game, including 13 on April Fools Day when they last went head-to-head.
In that game, Rajon Rondo absolutely took over with a triple-double: 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Boston was the better team that day, handing Miami its biggest loss of the season. The Celtics came out the half aggressive, locking down defensively with all starters scoring double digits. Wade struggled to hit 15 points, and James put up 23 efficient points but the passing lanes collapsed. Bosh was M-I-A with four points on 2-11 shooting. He did crash the glass for 11 boards, but his offensive presence is needed for this team to reach its goal. So, with the playoffs around the corner and a shot at the top seed, expect a physical game at American Airlines Arena.
On Thursday the Heat will take their talents to the United Center for a showdown against the Bulls. Remember that alley-oop dunk, when LBJ jumped over John Lucas III? Well, nearly a month ago, Lucas was the one laughing last time around. He lit up the elite South Beach with 24 points, one of six Bulls in double figures. The difference in that game was the second quarter where they went off for 34 points. In the end, James and Wade showed the dynamic duo that they are with a scorching 71 points, they were just money all over the court. But no one else really contributed, and Bosh scored a dozen going 3-15.
Thursday night could be for the top seed. This time, the Bulls will ahve their starting back court of Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton. Again, the Heat trail Chicago by 2 games at the moment, but they need Chris Bosh more than ever. Perhaps you go to him early and often. You don’t have to worry about getting the other two going, get the all-star big man some touches and run the offense through him, even if its distributing from the high post. Then again, these two powerhouses shouldn’t show their hand until a seven game series, so as bad as you want them to win this game, expect a vanilla gameplan. It will be exciting because this game features the elite teams in the Association.
From Here On Out
As for the rest of the team, they need to hit the boards. They have to put their heads down and follow suit, by scrapping for lose balls and contesting shots. Sure, this team slid a little bit, but realize the urgency will begin to pickup this week against their rivals and championship contenders. Regardless of where they finish in the regular season, this is still the team to beat in the East and deservedly so.