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Celtics Host Heat, Go for 6th Straight Win

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Miami Heat (41-36) at Boston Celtics (59-19)
Friday, April 10
7:30 PM ET
Game #79, Home Game #39
CSN HD, SunSports HD, NBA LP 754
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

The Heat come into Boston for the 4th and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics lead the series 2-1. In the first meeting between these two teams, the only one in which both teams were healthy, the Celtics dominated the game and won 98-83 in Miami.

In the second game in Miami, the Celtics were missing Rondo, Big Baby, Tony, Scal, and KG and they were facing a healthy Heat team. The Heat came away with a 107-99 win.

In their last meeting, which was in Boston, The Celtics were missing KG, Leon, Scal, Tony and Ray while the Heat were missing D Wade. The Celtics won that game 112-108 in overtime.

The Celtics will once again be shorthanded in this game as KG, Scal, and Leon aren't expected to return until after Sunday's game in Cleveland. The Heat will be missing key players with Udonis Haslem and Luther Head expected to miss the game.

The Heat are in 5th place 1.5 games behind Atlanta for the 4th seed, but just one game in front of Philly who is in the 6th spot. The Celtics are just 1 game in front of Orlando for the 2nd seed with a game in Cleveland looming on Sunday. This game has playoff implications with home court on the line for both teams.

ProbableStarting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs Jamario Moon

Power Forward
vs
Glen Davis vs Yakhouba Diawara
(There is also a possibility that the Heat may start Beasley at the 4 as they feel that this would give them an advantage at this position)

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Jermaine O'Neal

Injuries

Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (head) out
Leon Powe (knee) out

Miami HeatUdonis Haslem (thumb) out
Luther Head (hand) out
Daequan Cook (shoulder) questionable

Key Matchups
vs
Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
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 thus limit Ray's energy on the offensive end. If the Celtics can slow down Wade they have a much better chance of winning the game.

vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mario Chalmers
Chalmers has been doing a good job at the point for the Heat and Rondo has been playing some inspired basketball himself. No one could stop Rondo in the Nets game and the Heat are hoping that Chalmers can slow him down if they want to win this game.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Jermaine O'Neal
Perk has been playing solid defense and will need to continue that against a strong shooter like Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal spends a lot of time on the injured list, but when he is in the game, he can be a difference maker.

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.

Keys to the Game
Be Aggressive. The Celtics need to be the aggressors in going for loose balls and rebounds and in taking the ball to the basket. They have to be the team that wants it more because it is certain that the Heat will want this game to keep home court in the first round.

Defense The Celtics must continue to make defense their priority going into the playoffs. Defense wins games and championships and with or without KG, the Celtics must play tough defense.

Limit Turnovers The Celtics have to cut their turnovers down going into the playoffs. Taking care of the ball will become much more important in the post season and turnovers have been a problem for the Celtics all season.

Move the Ball When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man they are tough to defend. When the ball stops moving they struggle. The ball movement has to be consistent with both the starters and the second unit.

X-Factor
Focus and Effort
The Celtics have to maintain their focus and put out a consistent effort in order to win this. They are still short handed and will need to focus especially on the defensive end if they want the win.