Stumbling Heat Need Big Performance to Take Down Celtics in Game 3

Stumbling Heat Need Big Performance to Take Down Celtics in Game 3 All year long, the Celtics asserted their authority as the best road team in the Eastern Conference. Now they have a chance to prove it in a game that really matters.

Of the eight playoff teams in the East this spring, the Celtics were tied for the best road record, at 26-15; the Heat were tied for the worst home record, at 24-17. So the Heat are returning home for Game 3 of this first-round playoff series, but how much does that home-court advantage really mean?

The Heat had better figure it out soon. They're already down 2-0 in this series, and they need a win before things start looking really bleak. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has to hope someone besides Dwyane Wade shows up on Friday night.

When and Where

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
Friday, April 23, 7 p.m. (ESPN, CSNE)
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.

Head to Head

The C's can do no wrong. They're now 5-0 this season against the Heat, regular season and postseason combined. Dwyane Wade continues to play his heart out every time he takes the floor against the men in green, but everyone else is leaving their best game at home. The Celtics have come together in the postseason to play like a true team, and you need a true team to beat a true team. Miami doesn't seem to have one.

Key Matchup

Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade
Throughout the first two games of this series, we've seen the same thing from this Miami offense over and over and over again — pick and roll, pick and roll, pick and roll. It's been D-Wade getting the ball time and time again, and it's been Ray Allen guarding Wade more often than not. He's taking a beating from all the picks. How long can he hold up? Can the Celtics still win if Allen gets worn out and Wade goes off for 45? You can expect the Heat superstar to bring his best game with his team's backs about to be pushed up against that wall. How will Allen respond?

Starting Lineups

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

Heat
Point guard: Carlos Arroyo
Shooting guard: Dwyane Wade
Small forward: Quentin Richardson
Power forward: Michael Beasley
Center: Jermaine O'Neal

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • Ray Allen had 25 points for the Celtics in Game 2, and he shot 7-of-9 from 3-point range. He made five 3-pointers in the third quarter alone, setting a team record for one quarter.
  • Glen Davis had 23 points and eight rebounds. His career playoff highs are 26 points, set in Game 2 of the Celtics' first-round series against Chicago last year, and 11 rebounds, in Game 4 of that same series.
  • Kendrick Perkins has career averages of 7.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in the postseason.

Heat

  • Every Heat player not named Dwyane Wade combined to shoot 18-for-58 (31.0 percent) from the field against the Celtics in Game 2.
  • Jermaine O'Neal has shot 4-for-24 (16.7 percent) overall in this series.
  • Quentin Richardson has averaged 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game against the Celtics in his career.

Black and Blue

Celtics
Kevin Garnett returns to the Celtics in Game 3 after a one-game suspension for elbowing Quentin Richardson.

Heat
The Heat are completely healthy.

Outlook

For the Heat to steal Game 3 and give themselves a fighting chance in this series, one of two things needs to happen. Either Wade needs to go absolutely insane, making every shot and carrying Miami from start to finish, or someone else has got to step up and play.

This is the time for Michael Beasley to emerge as a go-to scoring option. This is the time for Jermaine O'Neal to stop throwing up bad jumpers and play smart, unselfish basketball. This is the time for Quentin Richardson to set aside his own personal emotions and help his team win.

If all that happens? Then sure, the Heat have a shot. But otherwise, look for the Celtics roll on to a 3-0 lead in this first-round series.

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