Celtics Look to Further Eastern Conference Bragging Rights in Miami

Celtics Look to Further Eastern Conference Bragging Rights in Miami In a road trip jam-packed with big games, this one is the biggest of them all. Bring on LeBron James and the South Beach All-Stars — it's time for a rematch.

The Celtics got the best of the Miami Heat in their season opener on Oct. 26, overcoming a 31-point performance by King James by making big plays down the stretch and gutting out an 88-80 win. That was back in Boston, though, and the Heat will no doubt be looking for revenge in their building. The Celtics and Heat face off for the second time this season Thursday night, at American Airlines Arena.

When and Where

Celtics at Heat
Thursday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m. (TNT)
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.

Head to Head

The Celtics' domination of the Heat extends all the way to the beginning of the Big Three era. The C's were 4-0 against Miami in the 2007-08 season, then 3-1 in '08-09, then 3-0 last season. Finally they eliminated the Heat in a five-game playoff series last spring, and they won last month's season opener at the TD Garden. Add it all up — Paul Pierce is 15-2 against the Heat since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined him in Boston in the summer of 2007. Not too shabby.

Key Matchup

Glen Davis vs. Joel Anthony
There's a good chance that the Celtics get at least one of their "O'Neal brothers," Shaquille or Jermaine, to give them a little something against the Heat on Thursday night. But neither of the banged-up veteran centers is likely to play serious minutes, meaning that Big Baby will take on a big role against the Heat. Against the undersized Anthony, Baby will have a chance to shine. He should get lots of chances to score in the low post, and there's a chance for his energy, both on the glass and in the 50-50 game, to be a major difference-maker.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Glen Davis

Heat
Point guard: Carlos Arroyo
Shooting guard: Dwyane Wade
Small forward: LeBron James
Power forward: Chris Bosh
Center: Joel Anthony

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • Paul Pierce scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting in the Celtics' loss to the Mavericks on Monday night. He leads the Celtics with 19.6 points per game.
  • Rajon Rondo ranks fourth in the NBA with 326 minutes played. Ray Allen is fifth with 316.
  • Kevin Garnett had 15 rebounds against the Mavs. He's averaging 10.8 boards per game, the highest of any of his four seasons in Boston.

Heat

  • LeBron James recorded 20 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in Tuesday night's loss to Utah. It was his first triple-double in a Miami uniform.
  • Dwyane Wade dropped 39 points on the Jazz for a new season high. He leads the Heat with 26.0 points per game.
  • Chris Bosh is averaging 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and shooting 46.7 percent. All of the above are Bosh's worst numbers since his rookie season of 2003-04.

Black and Blue

Celtics

  • Shaquille O'Neal hopes to make his return from a bruised right knee.
  • Jermaine O'Neal played only 11 minutes against the Mavericks on Monday night due to knee soreness. He is questionable for Thursday.
  • Avery Bradley is still inactive as he recovers from ankle surgery.
  • Kendrick Perkins has a torn ACL and hopes to return in January.

Heat

  • Mike Miller has a fractured thumb. He likely won't return until 2011.

Outlook

Thursday is Veterans Day, and that being the case, maybe the Celtics' veterans can have a big night against the younger, more athletic Heat. The Celtics are battling injuries to their big men and they've already had a couple of setbacks on the road, but they should be fresh and ready to rumble after two days off. The C's will hope skills, smarts and veteran savvy lead them to a victory over the Heat. It worked last time.

Yardbarker

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