After barely beating the Heat on Monday night, Al Horford talked about home court advantage to start the playoffs, saying, “it’s very important. Obviously, I want us to be playing good basketball, but at the same time, it would be a huge advantage for us.” So, heading into a pivotal game that has playoff seeding importance, the Celtics limp into the rematch:
Jaylen Brown missed Monday’s game with those back spasms and now with Marcus Morris on the mend, the Celtics’ depth will be gutted. Look for Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis to get more minutes off the bench.
For the Heat, they’ll be without Derrick Jones Jr. because of a right knee bone bruise he suffered after running into Kyrie Irving on Monday night. The trio of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Rodney McGruder are listed as questionable after missing the first end of the home-and-home. Winslow and McGruder have not played since mid-March. Richardson hasn’t suited up in Miami’s last three games because of a left heel injury.
This might be the type of game that players might play a little dinged up though. Here’s a snapshot of the Eastern Conference standings heading into Wednesday’s games. With four games left, the Celtics and Pacers are tied at 46-32, but by virtue of Boston’s edge head-to-head and a game up in terms of conference record, the Celtics would start a Round 1 series at home. After completing this home-and-home with the Heat, Boston travels to Indiana on Friday for another pivotal match up with the Pacers and then host an Orlando team on Sunday still in the thick of a playoff berth.
Indiana wraps up their home-and-home with the Pistons tonight as well with Detroit clinging to the 6th seed and then host the Nets on Sunday who are also vying for a playoff spot (with games against the Raptors and Bucks left on their schedule).
The Heat need a win on Wednesday, too; they’re currently the 8th seed and just half a game up on Orlando. Suffice to say, there are no gimme games late in the Eastern Conference’s season.