Wednesday, March 19, 2014
W2W4: Celtics vs. Heat (Game 69 of 82)
By Chris Forsberg
The Boston Celtics (22-46, 14-21 home) host the Miami Heat (46-19, 20-13 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
- TIME FOR STARTERS AGAIN?: The Boston Celtics opened overtime in New Orleans with what we'd call their preferred starting 5 of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Kris Humphries. One of the only other times we've seen that combo is back on Jan. 21 when it was Boston's starting 5 during a 93-86 loss in Miami. Injuries have prevented the team from trotting out that mix much this season. In fact, that five-man combination has been on the floor for a mere 50 minutes in six games this season. Truth be told, the numbers aren't great, at least on the offensive end, where the group has an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 86.2. That said, the group owns a defensive rating of 83.8, has been relentless on the glass, limits its turnovers, and is plus-5.8 per 48 minutes. While Brandon Bass has been a good soldier as a starter and we hesitate to break up the Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk super-sub pairing, we'd be intrigued to get a longer look at this group. The Celtics could roll in Olynyk as an early sub for Humphries and keep him paired with Sullinger for at least a few minutes per quarter.
- HEAT HAVE COOLED: Like many of the league's top teams this time of year, the Heat seems to be in "get us to the playoffs" mode. Miami is 5-5 in its last 10 (but has won two straight entering the tilt). The Heat will be playing the second night of a back-to-back after posting a 100-96 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The Celtics will hope LeBron James got all his hot shooting out against his former team. James scored 25 first-quarter points and finished with 43 overall. Dwyane Wade is expected back in the lineup for Miami after he sat out Tuesday's game to rest sore knees.
- LOOSE BALLS: This is the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams. It's a rubber match after Jeff Green's heroics lifted Boston to its most thrilling victory of the season in Miami in November. ... Ray Allen scored 14 points off the bench for Miami in Tuesday's win over Cleveland and was the only reserve to make a field goal. ... Greg Oden has been starting at center for the Heat in recent games. ... The Celtics have only five more home games remaining after tonight.
(Read full game preview)