Rajon Rondo traditionally raises his game against the Miami Heat, and the Boston Celtics will need a big game out of their star point guard Sunday as the team hosts the Heat at 1 p.m. hoping to end a six-game losing streak.
Rondo has averaged 13.6 points per game against the Heat in his career (his highest average against any opponent) and averages 9.9 assists per game (his second highest total against any opponent) for his career against Miami. Those numbers are also better than his overall career averages of 11.1 points and 8.3 assists per game. Rondo also shoots 53 percent for his career against the Heat, his second best mark against any opponent and significantly better than his 48 percent career shooting percentage.
This season, Rondo, who is averaging 13.7 points per game and leading the league with 11.1 assists per game, scored 20 points on 9 for 14 shooting with 13 assists and seven rebounds in Boston's only other game against the Heat, a loss in the season-opener in Miami.
Sunday's game also represents the return of Ray Allen -- who reportedly did not get along well with Rondo -- to play in Boston for the first time since leaving the Celtics to sign with the Heat as a free agent in the offseason. Allen scored 19 points in the season-opening win over Boston in Miami. He was also famously snubbed by former teammate Kevin Garnett when he tried to shake hands in that game.
Allen is averaging 11.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for Miami this season in 39 games as a key reserve. He's making 48 percent of his shots overall and hitting 44 percent of his three-pointers.
Boston comes into the game clinging to a 2½-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team's six-game losing streak is a season high, but Boston has also lost four straight and three straight at different times this season.
The Heat are leading the Eastern Conference and have the third best record in the NBA. LeBron James is once again a leading MVP candidate, averaging 26.8 points per game on a career-high 55 percent shooting. He's also making a career-best 38 percent of his three-pointers and a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game. James is also averaging 7.1 assists per game, just behind his career-best effort of 7.2 per game, which he did in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.