3. Feb. 11 vs Boston
Now is where we see what the Heat are really made of going into the break. No team poses a bigger threat in the East than the Boston Celtics (38-12).
The Celtics are 2-0 against the Heat this season, including a close game in the opening month and then a blowout in Miami a little less than two weeks ago. The Heat badly need this win to show some sign that they can compete with the best team in the East.
The Heat fanbase is still looking for that key win that can help them feel confident rolling into the second half of the season and the playoffs. Besides their 115-106 win over the Sacramento Kings, is there a signature win fans can hang their hat on? Winning this weekend would be a major confidence boost for the team and the fanbase.
How do you beat the Celtics? It's easier said than done, but the key is to apply pressure to the wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, get Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo going early and guarding the 3-point line. The Celtics shot 22-40 (55%) from distance in their last meeting. That's the recipe for the disaster it was.
Spoelstra and his guys should treat this like a playoff game. It doesn't matter how confident you are -- going down 0-3 in the regular season series is demoralizing, especially with the way the Celtics have been able to beat them. The Celtics should win this one, as the Heat just don't have the firepower to withstand them. Can you count on playoff Jimmy to show up in early February? Most would say no.
Prediction: Heat lose