Game Thread | Chat
If the 2009 NBA Playoffs were to begin today, Boston's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals opponent would be the sixth-seeded Miami Heat, who host the C's tonight on their own turf (or hardwood). A season ago, that would have sounded extremely outlandish, as Miami posted the NBA's worst 2007-2008 regular season record (15-67). A year later, things are a bit different. Miami is no longer the joke of the league or the glorified NBDL All-Star team. After a successful summer, bringing in young pieces like Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, to go along with the rebirth of Dwyane Wade, Heat fans are able to smile once again.
Beasley came into the season with as 2008 hype as any other rookie in the class, and throughout the 2007-2008 NCAA season, he was widely considered the best player in the country (even above UNC's Tyler Hansbrough). To begin his inaugural professional season, however, he was overshadowed and outperformed by his peers, highlighted by the likes of Memphis' O.J. Mayo and the number one overall pick in Chicago's Derrick Rose. Even so, the laid back forward has started to turn the corner since the New Year. Through Miami's first 10 games of the month of January, "B-Easy" has held averaged of 14.9 points and six rebounds per game on an efficient 49.6% shooting clip. Though he comes off the bench for now, it won't last for long if he continues his steady progression.
Beasley's promise is encouraging, but the real reason why Miami has been put back into the playoff picture is Mr. Dwyane Wade. My, what a season he has had. He has been absolutely fantastic, and has likely reclaimed status as a top five player in the league. To go along with his league-leading 28.9 points per game average, "Flash" is dishing 7.4 assists, grabbing 4.9 rebounds, coming away with 2.3 steals (3rd in NBA), and blocking a remarkable career-best 1.6 shots per game (1st among guards). D-Wade is back, ladies and gentleman, and he shows no mercy.
The biggest story surrounding the Heat as of late, though, may not be Dwyane Wade, but rather the trade rumors that have circulated mainstream outlets. Rumor has it that Jermaine O'Neal may be headed to Miami along with Jason Kapono, who played in Miami from 2005-2007, in exchange for former Celtic Marcus Banks and the expiring contract of Shawn Marion. Additional pieces have yet to be announced, but word on the street is that the deal could be completed by week's end. Conveniently enough, all four aforementioned players were out of action for Miami and Toronto's respective games this past Sunday. Stay tuned.
Shawn Marion may or may not be in uniform tonight, but there is some good news on the Celtics injury front - Kendrick Perkins will play for the first time since January 9th's loss in Cleveland. The Celtics have gone 5-0 since, thanks to "Air Intangibles," but you've got to wonder how long that ordeal would have lasted. Welcome back, Perk.
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Paul Pierce (19.3)
RPG: Kevin Garnett (9.1)
APG: Rajon Rondo (8.0)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (2.2)
BPG: Kendrick Perkins (1.8)
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Dwyane Wade (28.9)
RPG: Shawn Marion (9.2)
APG: Dwyane Wade (7.4)
SPG: Dwyane Wade (2.3)
BPG: Joel Anthony (1.6)
|2008 - Ray Allen||17.9||3.3||2.7|
|2008 - Dwyane Wade||28.9||4.9||7.4|
Tony Allen (strained right ankle - out)
Shawn Marion (pending trade? - questionable)
Marcus Banks (pending trade? - questionable)
Dorell Wright (recovering from left knee surgery - out)
Keys to Victory
- Cut Off Penetration
- Control the Glass
- 48-Minute Intensity