The Boston Celtics have endured their share of peaks and valleys during this lockout-truncated NBA season, but they seem to be hitting their stride at the right point of the season considering they've posted wins in eight of their past 10 games. The real test will come Tuesday night, however, as they travel to Florida to play the Miami Heat.
The Celtics picked up a big win over the Heat on national television just over one week ago -- mostly thanks to Rajon Rondo posting a triple-double -- but that was on a Sunday when Rondo's seemed to be brilliant all season. Tuesday night's game is still scheduled to be televised nationally (ESPN, 7 p.m.), but it remains to be seen if Rondo will be able to keep up his big-game heroics.
The always excellent Brian Windhorst of ESPN did some research and, heading into Tuesday night's matchup, Rondo is averaging 17.8 points while shooting 49 percent from the field in nationally televised games. In the remainder of Boston's games, Rondo's much more human with averages of 9.6 points on 44 percent shooting from the field.
It's a surprisingly important game, too, despite both teams all but already securing spots in the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics are currently sitting in the No. 4 spot if the postseason began prior to Tuesday night's action, but that's only because they lead their division (otherwise they'd be sitting not so comfortably in the No. 6 spot).
The Heat, on the other hand, are battling with the Chicago Bulls for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. The Heat are two games behind in that race right now, but our friends over at Blog a Bull are more worried than Miami, it seems:
Does it matter who gets home court in this series? I think it does more for the Bulls than the Heat, simply because I think that the Heat are better (though it's close), and therefore the Bulls could use every edge they can get. And it will matter more than whatever matchups exist in the first two rounds as I don't see a 3rd team really challenging either of the top two in this conference.
Either way, there are enormous consequences in this game for both teams -- especially as they try to rack up as many momentum-building wins against good teams throughout the remainder of the regular season.