The Miami Heat (62-16) and Boston Celtics (40-38) are set to clash in a late-season game that means much more for the visiting team to win than the host.
Because the Heat locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs—assuring that they will have home court advantage through the finals—there is little reason to risk injury or even fatigue to the superstar players.
On the other side, Boston has a firm grasp on the No. 7 seed but cannot afford to stumble down the stretch. The Milwaukee Bucks still have four games remaining and could mathematically leap the C’s if they go on a winning streak.
Expect the Celtics to show up tonight and try to earn a victory, as a win against Miami now means they likely wouldn’t have to see their rival until later in the postseason instead of the first round.
Keep reading to find out where to watch this exciting game, check the updated injury report that features numerous star players, highlight some players to watch that actually might be on the court and much more.
When: Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Watch: NBA TV
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Celtics Injury Report (via USA Today)
F Jared Sullinger, Back, Out
G Rajon Rondo, Knee, Out
Heat Injury Report (via USA Today)
F Udonis Haslem, Ankle, Probable
F LeBron James, Hamstring, Questionable
C Chris Bosh, Knee, Questionable
G Dwyane Wade, Knee, Questionable
Celtics Player to Watch: Jeff Green
Green has been instrumental to some big Boston wins this season, and he almost derailed the Heat’s epic winning streak earlier in the season.
When the Celts last faced the Heat back on March 18, the forward went off for 43 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, two assists and two steals in 40 minutes of play.
Unfortunately, his teammates collapsed and lost the game, 105-103.
This is a perfect time for Green to get things turned around and put up another big performance prior to the playoffs. Against Brooklyn on Wednesday evening, the 26-year-old only hit 4-of-17 shots for 11 points. Boston lost by eight points and proved that Green is integral to the chances of success for this squad.
Heat Player to Watch: Ray Allen
Allen will be going up his former team again and will likely be a focal point of the offense this time—assuming LeBron, Wade and Bosh sit this one out.
The aging sharpshooter has stepped up in the superstars’ absence, scoring 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting, grabbing six boards and dishing four assists on Wednesday against the Wizards.
If Allen is able to put up figures near or above his season average against Boston (33 minutes, 15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist), he should give the Heat’s skeleton crew a huge boost.
With little to play for and reserves likely to see big minutes, the Miami Heat simply aren't going to be able to hang with the Boston Celtics.
Which team will win?
The Heat’s regular season is effectively over and they should be doing nothing but concentrating on the impending playoffs if they are to repeat as champions in 2013.
On the other hand, Boston still isn’t out of the woods and needs to earn a win if it wants to shore up the No. 7 seed and have a decent shot at navigating its way back to the Eastern Conference finals.
This one could be close, but the C’s stars will make the difference in a 48-minute game.
Final Score Projection: Boston Celtics 87 – Miami Heat 84