The Boston Celtics have had a roller coaster season as people have written them off time and time again. But now, with the "old guard" having won seven of their last nine games, they could be the hottest team in the NBA.
Back on April 1, the Celtics dominated the Miami Heat in Boston, winning 91-72 behind a triple-double by Rajon Rondo. That game was a definite confidence builder and is one reason why the Celtics have been able to sustain momentum throughout this run.
Which brings us to tonight. The Celtics travel to South Beach to take on LeBron James and company. The Heat have posted a dominating 24-3 record at home and have won 18 of their last 19 at American Airlines Arena.
The Heat have established just how dominant they can be, but have not been quite as convincing against the Celtics. In two matchups this year, the teams have split the two with each team winning at home.
Like a playoff series, the key to advancing is winning on the other team's floor. The Celtics lost the first matchup 115-107, losing the game during a second quarter where they were out scored 39-27.
A win tonight would give Boston a 2-1 lead in the season series, but more importantly would give the veteran team a ton of confidence headed into the last three weeks of the season. The Celtics have got into a nice groove defensively over this stretch, only allowing more than 90 points twice (1-1 record in those games).
Dwyane Wade is expected to be back in the lineup tonight, meaning that the Heat will be at full strength and ready for the Celtics.
"We'll be better prepared," LeBron James said (via The Associated Press). "They beat us. They dominated us in that game [last week]. But we'll be better prepared."
It will take everything the Celtics have to take this game, but if they do it could give them that swagger that they had during their run of NBA Finals appearances. Couple that with the fact that this is likely the last run Boston will have with the "Big Three" and Rondo, and the Celtics could make some serious noise in the Eastern Conference.