For their first road game in 2010, the Celtics visit American Airlines Arena in Miami, meeting up with a Heat team that's still very much in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff berth, and maybe even a first-round home series. The Celtics have done well in recent tangles with big Eastern Conference foes — but taking on Dwyane Wade and the Heat with a depleted roster will be a new challenge altogether.
Wednesday, Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Celtics (24-8, first place in Atlantic Division)
Heat (17-15, third place in Southeast Division)
This is the second meeting between these two teams — the Celtics won the first 92-85 in Miami on Nov. 29. Kevin Garnett shot a near-perfect 11-for-12, Rajon Rondo added a double-double and Ray Allen hit the game-clinching three. Dating back to early 2007, the Celtics are now 9-1 in their last 10 meetings with the Heat. Can't complain about that.
It's another MVP-caliber season for Dwyane Wade, and it all starts there for the Heat. With Wade scoring in truckloads again this season and the team starting to figure things out defensively, we could have another Miami playoff run before our eyes this spring. If the young supporting cast around Wade continues to blossom, the Heat are a force to be reckoned with.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Rasheed Wallace
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Carlos Arroyo
Shooting guard: Dwyane Wade
Small forward: Quentin Richardson
Power forward: Michael Beasley
Center: Jermaine O'Neal
The Celtics are 16-4 against other Eastern Conference teams this season.
They rank second-to-last in the NBA with 295 offensive rebounds.
Rajon Rondo leads the NBA with 2.6 steals per game.
Kendrick Perkins leads the league with a 64.3 percent field-goal shooting.
Paul Pierce is averaging 23.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in his career against the Heat.
Ray Allen has 20.7 points per game against them.
Rasheed Wallace is shooting 28.5 percent from 3-point range.
The Heat are 11-9 at home.
They have 1,301 total rebounds, third-fewest in the NBA.
Dwyane Wade is fifth in the NBA with 26.4 points per game.
Udonis Haslem leads the Heat with 7.4 rebounds a game.
Joel Anthony (1.4), Wade (1.2) and Jermaine O'Neal (1.1) all average better than a block per game.
Michael Beasley has averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in five career meetings with the Celtics.
Quentin Richardson has 12.1 points per game against them.
Paul Pierce (right knee infection) and Rajon Rondo (left hamstring strain) are both expected to return to the Celtics on Wednesday.
Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins both missed practice Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
Kevin Garnett has a hyperextended knee. Doc Rivers doubts he will return for at least another week.
Jermaine O'Neal is questionable after missing Monday's game against Atlanta with a strained groin and hip flexor.
In 1988, Celtics guard Danny Ainge sets an NBA record by connecting on at least one 3-point field goal in 23 consecutive games. The Celtics beat the Hornets at home, 115-92.
"It's probably not 100 percent, but it's getting better, and it's feeling good enough to play. I got a chance to run over the last couple of days on the treadmill. I have been shooting every day, running every day. Then I got out here at practice and have been feeling pretty good. I am about as confident as I am going to be until it gets 100 percent."
–Paul Pierce, in Wednesday's MetroWest Daily News, on the status of his infected right knee
Injuries can't stand in the Celtics' way.
The C's lineup is up in the air.
The youngsters are getting their chance.
The short-handed Heat beat Atlanta.
Welcome back, Rafer Alston?
What Alston means for Mario Chalmers.
It's time for the Jazz to shake things up.
The Celtics have had their struggles on the road recently — there's no denying that — but their injured stars are on the mend, and there's hope of this team returning to full strength soon. Beating the Heat with a depleted roster won't be easy, but if Paul Pierce can come back and breathe some life into these Celtics, then expect them to make a game of it. If not? The bench guys get one more chance to shine before they're set back in their places.
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