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Celtics Skeleton Crew Takes on DWade and the Heat

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Boston Celtics (49-15) at Miami Heat (34-29)
Wednesday, March 11
7:30 PM ET
Game #65, Road Game #33
SunSports HD, CSN HD, NBA LP 755
American Airlines Arena

Game Thread l Chat

Shorthanded might be an understatement in describing the Celtics as they come into this game in Miami without Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen and Big Baby Davis. The Heat on the other hand are at full force with no injuries to report.

This is the second of 4 meetings between these 2 teams this season. The Celtics won the first game in Miami 98-83 in January. They will meet in Boston on 3/18 and 4/10.

The Heat are 21-11 at home while the Celtics are 23-9 on the road. The Heat are 20-16 vs Eastern Conference teams while the Celtics are 33-6 vs Eastern foes.

Miami is 9-0 when the shoot 50% or more from the field, so defense will be important if the Celtics hope to get the victory. Wade and Chalmers have combined for252 steals this season, which is first in the NBAfor backcourt duos. The Celtics have to take care of the ball or the Heat will make them pay for it.

Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games and the Heat are coming off a big double overtime win over the Bulls while the Celtics are hoping to get back on track after a tough loss to the Magic. The Celtics are still trying to keep pace for home court but with all the injuries it has been difficult. But, the Celtics still have 2 future Hall of Famers, which is more than most teams have.

The big question mark is at point guard where the Celtics don't really have anyone to fill the void left by Rondo's injury. Stephon Marbury hasn't had enough time to learn the plays, House isn't a true point and is much better at the 2 guard. Gabe Pruitt hasn't had enough playing time to be comfortable. The loss of Big Baby also leaves the Celtics thin up front with just 3 bigs left to man the front court..

Doc has said over and over that he doesn't want to run Ray and Paul into the ground. and if he follows through on that, we should see more of JR Giddens and Bill Walker in this game. One of them may just surprise us if he gets enough of a chance.

Hopefully the Celtics can grit this game out and keep their hopes alive for home court advantage.

ProbableStarting Matchups
Point Guard
Stephon Marbury vs
Stephon Marbury vs Mario Chalmers

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs Jamario Moon

Power Forward
vs
Leon Powe vs Udonis Haslem
(We are quickly running out of big bodies. With the injury to Big Baby, it seems that Leon is the most likely to move into the starting lineup. This would leave only Mikki Moore to back up both the center and PF spots. Here's hoping no one gets in foul trouble.)

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Jermaine O'Neal

Injuries
Boston Celtics Tony Allen (thumb) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (head) out
Rajon Rondo (ankle) out
Glen Davis (ankle) out

Miami Heat None to report

Key Matchups
vs
Ray Allen PPG 18.4 RPG 3.50 APG 2.8 EFF + 17.27
Dwyane Wade PPG 29.4 RPG 5.10 APG 7.6 EFF + 28.97
Wade has been at the top of the MVP candidates list and has been playing great basketball. He will definitely make Ray work on the defensive end and thius limit Ray's energy on the offensive end.

vs
Kendrick Perkins PPG 8.1 RPG 8.10 APG 1.2 EFF + 13.97
Jermaine O'Neal PPG 13.3 RPG 6.80 APG 1.7 EFF + 15.49
O'Neal likes to shoot from the perimeter and is a tough cover for Perk, but at the same time, Perk should get some easy baskets inside with JO covering him.

Honorable Mention
Eddie House PPG 8.0 RPG 1.90 APG 1.1 EFF + 7.35
Mario Chalmers PPG 9.8 RPG 2.60 APG 4.6 EFF + 11.71
With Rondo out, Eddie will have to figure out how to get the Celtics into their offense as well as try to keep Chalmers from getting the Heat into theirs.

Team Connections
Mark Blount is a former Celtic (even though most Celtics' fans would rather forget that fact)
Michael Beasley and Bill Walker were teammates at Kansas State
Mario Chalmers and Paul Pierce are former Kansas Jayhawks
Jamaal Magloire and Rajon Rondo are former Kentucky Wildcats
Eddie House was originally drafted by the Heat with the 37th pick in the 2000 draft.

X-Factor
Injuries
The Heat are at full force and the Celtics have been hit hard by injuries. The remaining healthy Celtics will each have to put forth a very strong effort in order for the Celtics to have a chance in this one. If the refs get whistle happy, the Celtics may end up without any bigs to end the game.