The Los Angeles Lakers avenged a punishing defeat by the Boston Celtics on Jan. 30 at the Staples Center with a convincing victory tonight at the TD Garden, taking control of the second half to win 92-86.
This was the Celtics' second loss in a row and dropped their record to 38-14, tying them with the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
With a victory tomorrow night against the lowly Detroit Pistons, Miami will have sole ownership of the Eastern Conference lead for the second time this season.
The Heat only gave up the lead in the east after LeBron James, Chris Bosh and then Dwyane Wade all suffered injuries with each of them missing multiple games.
Now on a seven-game winning streak and with all three stars healthy, the Heat are looking to maintain their lead with a road game against the Celtics on Sunday.
If they can avenge their season opener loss at Boston, they will be one and a half games ahead of the Celtics.
If the Celtics win, however, the Heat will fall back to a half game behind Boston.
With how Miami and Boston have been playing recently, however, it is likely the Heat will come out of the victory.
Given a one and a half game lead this late in the season, look for Miami to make a run for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs.
If they can achieve it, they avoid a difficult second-round series with the Chicago Bulls, instead facing either the Atlanta Hawks or the Orlando Magic, if the current standings remain as they are.
That will leave the brutal second-round series against the Bulls for the Celtics instead, likely to be decided by a Game 7.
Given that the Heat should have a much easier time dispatching either the Hawks or the Magic, they should be fresher than their opponent going into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Along with home-court advantage, expect the Heat to come out victorious.
And if the Lakers can bypass the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs to win the Western Conference, we may finally have the Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals that we have all been salivating for.