Celtics vs. Heat preview: Two shorthanded teams prepping for the playoffs

Jim Rogash

The Celtics and Heat will link up in Miami, but the game will miss the the ingredients that have always made the series between the two teams since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach.

The Boston Celtics travel down to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat in a game featuring two teams licking their wounds before they dig down in the trenches of the playoffs. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will both be out for Boston, while Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier will not play for the Heat.

After missing six straight games Dwyane Wade is expected to play, though his minutes will likely be limited as he revs his engine back up into gear following time away due to bone bruises around his knee. The last time Wade took the court was March 29 at New Orleans. LeBron James is also expected to play after dealing with a strain in his hamstring. Rounding out the big three injury report, Chris Bosh will also play after dealing with flu-like symptoms earlier in the week.

Hot Hot Hoops: The Birdman effect

With both teams winding down their regular seasons, the match-up won't have the flair and excitement that is typically associated with their meetings. Partner that with the players slated to miss out, specifically for the Celtics, and this becomes a far cry from what a Boston at Miami game is all about. The old dogs of the Eastern Conference battling King James and the Heat won't be happening tonight.

The Heat have the first seed all wrapped up in the Eastern Conference and are in prime position to defend their title while riding home court advantage through the playoffs. Boston is tucked snugly into the seventh seed, but could use a victory to keep the Milwaukee Bucks at bay in the eighth seed and avoid facing the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Even with the injuries to their big three since their winning streak was snapped, Miami's reserves have played well. They've won six of their last seven games and are currently on a four-game winning streak. Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, and Ray Allen have stepped up with increased responsibilities, showing the depth of Miami beyond their trio.

Boston, however, has struggled during the final stretch of the season. Since they last lost to Miami on March 18 they've won only four of their last 13 games and have been dealing with ankle injuries to both Pierce and Garnett. With Rajon Rondo also out with his ACL tear, Boston has been shorthanded but remained afloat in the playoff seedings. It's all about hitting the playoffs healthy and in stride, so it comes as no surprise that the Celtics would sit Garnett and Pierce with only four games remaining on their schedule.

With an increased workload, Jeff Green has stepped up for Boston, averaging 37.5 minutes per game and 19.2 points per game over the last ten games. He'll have his hands full while trying to manage playing against James. The last time Boston and Miami played Green dropped 43 points while going five of seven from beyond the arc.

The Heat have won two of the three meetings between the teams. Boston's lone victory came in a double-overtime effort in January.

Game time

7:30 p.m. ET


Miami favored +13, via Oddsshark.com

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