Tuesday NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
It’s a potential preview of the Eastern Conference semifinals when Boston visits Miami on Tuesday night with the Heat as 6.5-point betting favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Miami enters two games behind Chicago for the top seed in the East. After seeing their 17-game home win streak snapped Friday vs. Memphis, Miami crushed the Pistons 98-75 on Sunday. The Heat limited the Pistons to 30.2 percent shooting in the half court, the lowest half-court field goal percentage they’ve allowed this season. Detroit’s 75 points were the second-fewest allowed by Miami this season.
The Heat won easily despite playing without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade. He sat with a sore ankle but expects to play tonight after practicing on Monday. The ankle had swelled up after that loss to Memphis. The Heat have played without Wade for 11 games this season and are 10-1 in those games with the most recent win on Sunday against the Pistons. Wade is averaging 22.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season with a player efficiency rating of 26.8.
The Heat likely will be looking for payback after they humbled in a 19-point loss in Boston, where they managed a measly 72 points on April Fool’s Day. The Celtics are playing as well as anyone since the All-Star break. They crushed the 76ers 103-79 on Sunday to take a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division. Kevin Garnett scored 20 points and Rajon Rondo dished out double-digit assists for his 17th consecutive game, finishing with 15. The Celtics are 20-9 when forward Garnett starts at center.
Over the last few weeks as they have amped up for the playoffs and taken over the Atlantic Division lead, the Celtics’ defense has tightened and they have leapt in the rankings. They now lead the NBA in defensive field goal percentage and defensive efficiency. Smothering the Heat was perhaps their finest defensive outing of the season. The Heat were outscored 31-12 in the third quarter. They shot 34 percent from the field. They scored 28 points in the second half. And then there was the embarrassing block Celtics guard Avery Bradley had on Wade, who fell to the floor after the play. And Rondo dominated with a triple-double.
“Guys are looking forward to this game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.