The Miami Heat (40-15) put an impressive home record on the line on Tuesday night against a surging Boston Celtics (32-24) that has struggled on the road this season.
LeBron James struggled mightily against the Celtics the last time these two clubs squared off, and both teams will be looking to make a statement in this one.
Rajon Rondo has had at least 10 assists in every game since March 11 and his strong play has been a big reason why the Celtics have turned around the season.
It will be interesting to see how Miami attempts to defend Rondo, because Mario Chalmers allowed him to rack up a triple-double the last time he drew the defensive assignment.
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
When: Tuesday, April 10, 7:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Listen: 93.7 WEEI (Boston), WAXY 790 (Miami)
Betting line: Not available, according to Bovada.lv at 9:15 a.m. ET
Key Injuries: Mickael Pietrus (concussion), Dwyane Wade (ankle), Jermaine O'Neal (wrist)
What They're Saying
LeBron James had been in somewhat of a mini-slump of late, but he's clearly burst out of it in a big way.
After struggling with his shot at the end of March, James has shot at least 50 percent from the floor in four of his first five contests in April.
Miami is going to need James to be the efficient player we saw earlier this season to get back on track, and it appears his head and elbow concerns are behind him (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN).
During that six-game flatline period in March, James averaged just 18.5 points and shot 42 percent, numbers that represented vast drops from his norms. He had suffered a head and neck injury, which was deemed not to be a concussion, and banged his right elbow hard after a fall.
Over these past six games, however, James has looked healthier and more confident. During this span his numbers have returned to All-Star levels: 28.5 points and 54 percent shooting.
Most Important Player to Watch: Kevin Garnett
The move to center has done wonders for Garnett's career, and he's responded with impressive averages since taking over that role.
Averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks and shooting 51.8 percent from the floor (87.4 percent from the foul line), Garnett has literally improved his averages across the board.
Yes, Miami has an obvious lack of size on the roster, but the real problem for the Heat will be who defends Garnett when he's making his way around the perimeter.
He's a matchup nightmare capable of having a huge night against a Miami team that might not have an answer for him.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce
There are going to be a number of intriguing matchups within the starting five, but both Miami and Boston will need its key contributors to step up.
Although he doesn't get talked about as frequently as he should, Pierce has been playing at an incredibly high level and is averaging better than 20 points per game while shooting 43.5 percent from behind the arc in March.
Pierce and James each had 23 points in Boston's April 1 victory over Miami, but Pierce was +28 for the game while James registered an incredibly ugly -30.
Prediction: Heat 102, Celtics 97
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