Miami is in a good groove, although one hesitates to even bring it up. Just two straight wins, including last night’s 100-96 victory over Cleveland. But considering how Heat has performed – or not – over the last two weeks, it’s better than the alternative.
Which is to say, the Boston Celtics’ whole season.
Wins have been hard to come by for the storied franchise, whose record now stands at 22-46. No one expected anything great out of Beantown this season, but the Celtics have lost five in a row and 12 of their last 15.
Still, there’s reason for (slight) optimism. They hung on to Rajon Rondo, choosing to keep the injured point guard on the roster rather than trade him. He’s likely their cornerstone for the future. They’ve also stockpiled several draft picks over the next few years, so the plan to rebuild is going as well as can be expected. They’ve also got a new coach, Brad Stevens, who is young, dedicated and committed to putting defensive pressure on opponents. Boston has scrapped for each of its 22 wins, including a 111-110 victory over Miami back in November that ended on this demoralizing note:
Boston probably won’t win tonight but they’ll harass and annoy the hell out of the Heat and hope that Miami’s players are in a shooting funk.
A funk unlike LeBron James’ performance in Cleveland. With Dwyane Wade out of the lineup, James took the opportunity to blow up his old team with 43 points. After his 61-point performance against Charlotte a few weeks ago, James struggled with his long-range shooting. But, having notched his 40+ points in such efficient fashion (14-of-19 from the field, including 6-of-8 shots from behind the arc), fatigue shouldn’t be a problem. Also, with Wade rested and playing his best basketball all season, look for him to score early and often.
Greg Oden started his second consecutive game (looks like I blew that part of my prediction) but, if the March 4 game versus Houston is any indication, G.O. will not play in back-to-back games now that he’s a regular part of the rotation. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra will likely reinsert Shane Battier into the starting lineup.
But regardless of who’s on the floor for Miami, the opponent they all face is disinterest. The Heat let the Cavaliers hang around despite a brilliant performance from James and Boston’s tenacious defense (and intense loathing of Miami) could makes things interesting. Can Miami fight fatigue and complacency in order to pull out a win?
Watch tonight’s telecast of the game beginning at 7:30 P.M. on Sun Sports from the TD Garden in Boston. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.