|2011-12 Head to Head Meetings|
||Miami 66 @ Boston 78 (-7)
||Boston 115 (+7.5) @ Miami 107
||Miami 72 @ Boston 91 (+4)
||Boston 107 @ Miami 115 (-9.5)
Skinny: The Heat and Celtics are no strangers to each other in the postseason. Boston eliminated Miami in five games two years ago in the opening round, while the Heat returned the favor in the conference semifinals last May in five games. This time around, the two rivals meet for the right to advance to the NBA Finals.
Miami has taken the road many expected by advancing past New York in five games and Indiana in six games. Beating the Pacers was no easy task in the second round as power forward Chris Bosh missed the final five contests with an abdominal injury suffered in the first half of the series opener. The Heat managed to overcome a 2-1 deficit by winning the final three games, including two great performances by LeBron James (40 points and 18 rebounds in Game 4) and Dwyane Wade (41 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6). Bosh's availability is in question for this series, but the aging Celtics have their injury concern as well.
Past the big four of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, one of Boston's most valuable pieces in the playoffs was Avery Bradley. The ex-Texas Longhorn guard turned into the defensive stopped for the Celtics throughout the final two months of the season, but injured his left shoulder for a second time in the playoffs in Game 2 against the 76ers. In spite of Bradley's absence, Boston outlasted Philadelphia in seven games of the conference semifinals, as no team won consecutive times in the entire series.
Head-to-Head Matchups: Even though the Heat eliminated the Celtics last postseason in five games, Boston pulled off retribution by beating Miami three of four times in this lockout-shortened campaign. The first meeting between these rivals came back in late December, the second game for each squad of the season. The Heat held off the Celtics, 115-107, but Boston cashed as 9 ½-road underdogs to drop to 0-2 overall on the season. Pierce sat out for Boston with a bruised right heel, as the Heat lit up the C's for 69 points in the opening half. The key off the Miami bench turned out to be Norris Cole, as the rookie from Cleveland State scored a career-high 20 points, while Wade and James combined to score 50 points.
The Celtics would take over the remainder of the season series as Boston won each of the final three meetings, all in the month of April. Boston made Miami look like fools on April 1 at TD Garden with a convincing 91-72 beatdown of the Heat as four-point home 'dogs. The Heat was limited to just 28 second-half points, as Boston's 31-12 third-quarter advantage put the game never in doubt. Rondo racked up another triple-double with 16 points, 11 boards, and 14 assists, while Boston's defense clamped down by holding Miami to 35% shooting from the floor.
Boston put together its most impressive shooting performance of the season in South Florida by knocking down 61% of its field-goal attempts in a 115-107 triumph on April 10. The C's won outright as 7 ½-point underdogs, while the two teams eclipsed the 'over' for the fifth straight meeting at the American Airlines Arena. Boston knocked down nine treys in 14 tries, including a trio of three-pointers from Pierce, who scored a team-high 27 points.
The last meeting of the season didn't prove much on either side as James, Wade, and Bosh sat out for the Heat in a 78-66 defeat at TD Garden on April 24. The Celtics cashed as seven-point favorites even though Garnett, Rondo, and Allen all rested. Only four players scored in double-figures combined, but seven Celtics tallied at least seven points in the victory.
Betting Notes: The Heat is riding a red-hot 9-2 SU/ATS stretch as a home favorite the last 11 games, while the 'under' is 10-4 the previous 14 contests at the AAA. Since mid-February, Miami owns a profitable 13-9 ATS record in the road 'chalk' role, while holding eight straight opponents to below 100 points on the highway.
Boston didn't respond well in the role off an away underdog by winning just eight of 25 times, while posting a 13-12 ATS ledger. However, the Celtics put together a 12-5 ATS record as a road 'dog with rest, which will be the case in this series. The C's were a home 'dog seven times in the regular season, as the 'under' cashed five times, while Boston finished 4-0-1 ATS in its final five games when getting points at TD Garden.
Series Outlook: The Celtics found a way to advance to the conference finals for the third time in six seasons, but their lack of depth will likely be their biggest enemy. Miami is rested heading into the opener after last playing on Thursday night, while the team hopes to get Bosh back sometime in this series. James and Wade are playing the best basketball of their careers, as the Heat will advance to the Finals in six games.
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