In a rivalry renewed, the Miami Heat will travel to play the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics enter this game as winners of seven of their past nine games. That includes victories over the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors.
Boston is now 36-29 overall and 24-9 at home.
As for the Heat, they have now won 22 consecutive games. This run has pushed them to 51-14 and has the franchise on the brink of NBA history.
The question is, will Miami's arch-rival Celtics be the ones to take them down?
Time: Monday, Mar 18 at 8 p.m. EDT
Records: Miami Heat (51-14, 21-11 road) at Boston Celtics (36-29, 24-9 home)
Betting Line: Heat (-5.0)
Miami Heat Injury Report
Boston Celtics Injury Report
Rajon Rondo, Torn ACL, Out
Jared Sullinger, Back Surgery, Out
Key Storyline: Streak versus Rivalry
When the Miami Heat travel to play the Boston Celtics, they will be putting their 22-game winning streak on the line. Perhaps more importantly, they will be renewing a rivalry with the Celtics.
Throw records to the wind—this one will be brutal.
On Jan. 27, the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics did defeat the Heat by a score of 100-98. This has been the story of the rivalry, as Boston has overcome the odds to take down the Heat.
Can the C's do it again?
If the Celtics have it their way, they will. The rivalry was taken to an entirely new level when Ray Allen jumped ship to join the Heat, and the Celtics are one game away from securing at least a season split with Miami.
If any team can end the Heat's winning streak, we all know it to be Boston.
Key Matchup: Courtney Lee vs. Dwyane Wade
The last time these two teams met, Courtney Lee played a key role in holding Dwyane Wade to 6-of-20 shooting from the floor. Even as Lee shot just 1-of-7, his defensive efforts were key to Boston's ability to achieve victory.
The question is, can Lee contain Wade again?
Over the span of the Heat's 22-game winning streak, Wade is shooting 52.3 percent from the floor. With this in mind, it's hard to believe that Lee will shut him down.
With that in mind, can Lee counter his offensive production?
Lee doesn't need to match him point for point, but he is a capable three-point shooter. In fact, he's shooting 41.7 percent over the past five games.
Lee's ability to come up with timely defensive stops and three-point buckets could win this game for Boston. With that being said, Wade's ability to score in the fourth quarter is Miami's best bet at continuing its win streak.
Both of these players will help decide the outcome of this one.
X-Factor: Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
Courtney Lee's ability to defend Dwyane Wade will ultimately decide the outcome of this one. With that being said, the Boston Celtics will have no chance if they lack a quality effort along the interior.
Brandon Bass must step up to provide that help.
Bass is a capable jump shooter that has experienced success against Miami in the past. With that being said, he went just 1-of-5 from the field during the Heat's most recent outing.
This is especially disappointing considering Bass averaged 9.9 points on 50 percent shooting against the Heat during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. That 10 points could be the difference in this one.
Bass must step it up in order to pull out this upset.
The Boston Celtics are hot, but the Miami Heat are scorching. The question is, which team is going to be able to cool down its rival?
Home-court advantage could play a major role in this one.
Dating back to the 2012 postseason, the Celtics have won their past three home games against the Heat. Although Miami may be hot, there is another trend that relies more heavily upon Boston's competitive nature.
The Celtics will end Miami's streak at a legendary point.
Paul Pierce has long been a thorn in LeBron James' side, while Kevin Garnett has mastered the offsetting of Chris Bosh. With Courtney Lee and Jason Terry countering Dwyane Wade, the Celtics will have enough.
Boston Celtics 94, Miami Heat 90
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