The Boston Celtics have beaten the Miami Heat three times already this season, and they hope to make it a fourth Sunday in South Beach (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). And then, in all likelihood, they'll try to add four more wins in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, as the teams look to be on a collision course for the second-round meeting. The C's and Heat will be the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in some order, with the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in some order their opponents. But the first-round matchup isn't particularly important to either squad. It's all about home court advantage in Round 2.
That the Celtics are still at an advantage in gaining the advantage after a brutal March says something about both how good Boston has been the balance of the season and how ineffective Miami's attempts to leap ahead have been. That Miami is tied with Boston and, with a win, has a great chance to clinch the advantage in the coming days speaks to just how great the Heat have been this season: They have equaled the Celtics.
But Boston, in the head-to-head matchups, has been dominant. The Celtics are 3-0 in the season series, with wins by eight and three points at TD Garden and by five points in Miami. LeBron James has actually been pretty great against Boston this season, averaging 29.3 points, seven rebounds and about seven assists per game. His shooting has been off -- with an effective field goal percentage around .480 -- thanks to bad three-point shooting (3-13).
Dwyane Wade has been downright awful. He's averaged 12.3 points on 27 percent shooting. It's completely bizarre, considering Wade averaged 33 points on 56 percent shooting against Boston in the playoffs last season. The Celtics have keyed in on Wade and Chris Bosh, not quite ignoring LeBron's big numbers but at least conceding them to a certain point. By keeping Wade and Bosh at bay, Boston has been able to keep leads and take victories. For the narrative to change, Wade's almost assuredly going to have to break out.