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The Few, The Proud, the Celtics Face Miami in the Garden

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Miami Heat (36-30) at Boston Celtics (50-18)
Wednesday, March 18
7:00 PM ET
Game #69, Home Game #34
ESPN, CSN HD,
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics face the Miami Heat for the second time in a week.
This is the 3rd of 4 meetings between these two teams and the first in Boston. The series is tied 1-1 with the Celtics winning in January and the Heat taking advantage of a depleted Celtics team a week ago. In last Wednesday's game, the Celtics were missing 5 players including Rajon Rondo. The Heat won the game 107-99 behind 32 points from Dwyane Wade. It didn't seem possible at the time, but the Celtics are even more depleted for this game with Rondo, Ray, and Leon all incurring injuries in last night's game and all are listed as questionable in this game.

The Celtics need tthis game to keep pace with both the Cavs and the Magic. The Heat are in the 5th spot in the East, 2 games in front of the Sixers and 2.5 games behind Atlanta. The Celtics are 4.5 games behind Cleveland for the top seed after their win over the Magic. The Celtics are still 1/2 game in front of the Magic for the 2nd seed and in very much danger of dropping to the 3rd seed. .

Miami is 10-0 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 for 252 steals this season, which is first in the NBA for backcourt duos. The Celtics have to take care of the ball or the Heat will make them pay for it as they did in the game a week ago. Turnovers have been the Celtics achilles heel and they need to find a way go cut them down.

Miami is 36-30 overall, but are just 12-19 on the road and the Celtics are 27-6 at home and need to protect their home court. The Celtics are quickly running out of healthy players and are playing in the second of back to back games. If the players injured last night can't go and if Big Baby doesn't return, they will be down to 8 healthy players. This will be tough no matter how you look at it.

ProbableStarting Matchups
It's hard to tell who will play and who will be out at this point. Starting and key matchups are only a guess assuming the 3 players injured last night can go.
Point Guard
[image] vs [image]
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers

Shooting Guard
[image] vs [image]
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
[image] vs [image]
Paul Pierce vs Jamario Moon

Power Forward
[image] vs [image]
Leon Powe vs Udonis Haslem

Injuries

Boston CelticsTony Allen (thumb) out
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (head) out
Glen Davis (ankle) day to day
Eddie House (ankle/heel) probable
Ray Allen (elbow) questionable
Rajon Rondo (ankle) questionable
Leon Powe (knee) questionable
Paul Pierce (flu-like symptoms) probable


Miami Heat None

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.

Key Matchups
[image] vs[image]
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 had been mentioned as a possible MVP candidated 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. He led the Heat to a victory in Miami just a week ago, now it is time for the Celtics to look for payback and a big game from Ray.

[image] vs[image]
Rajon Rondo PPG 11.4 RPG 5.40 APG 8.4 EFF + 18.86
Mario Chalmers PPG 10.1 RPG 2.60 APG 4.6 EFF + 12.08
In the last game between these two teams, Rondo was out and Chalmers had an easy time against a rusty Stephon Marbury and the Heat got the win. It will be interesting to see what kind of a difference having Rondo back will make for the team.

Honorable Mention
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
Perk has to have a strong game vs O'Neal with KG and Big Baby still out. In their last meeting, Bill Walker played some power forward well enough to get under O'Neal's skin. Perk will need to play the same kind of in your face defense in this game to keep O'Neal from getting easy rebounds and scores inside.
X-FactorHome Court and injuries
The Celtics are at home and need to protect their home court. Hopefully the focus and defense will be there to get a win in this game. The Celtics were hit again by the injury bug in the Bulls game losing Leon Powe and having Rondo tweak his ankle again. A lot will depend on whether both of them will be able to go in this game.