Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (-12.5, 194)
It won’t be like the typical battles between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, but there will still be something on the line for one team when the Celtics visit the Heat on Friday. Miami has been resting players liberally since the end of its 27-game winning streak and has even less incentive to push its starters now that the top overall record in the NBA is locked up. Boston is still fighting over seeding at the bottom of the East.
The Heat sat Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem on Wednesday and still earned a 103-98 win at Washington to wrap up the best record in franchise history. The Celtics, who beat the Heat on Jan. 27 and nearly derailed their winning streak with a 105-103 loss on March 18, are one of the few teams capable of giving Miami problems at full strength. Boston owns a three-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 7 spot in the East with four games remaining, and is comfortable enough with that lead that both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are expected to sit out on Friday.TV:
7:30 p.m. ET, CSNNE (Boston), SUN (Miami), NBATV
ABOUT THE CELTICS (40-38):
Boston has not exactly been lighting the world on fire down the stretch but has benefited from a similar swoon by the Bucks and will likely avoid having to open the playoffs at Miami. The Celtics have dropped nine of their past 13 while Garnett has dealt with an ankle injury and Pierce has been banged up. Garnett returned from an eight-game absence to play in the last two but will be used just enough down the stretch to keep his stamina up for the start of the playoffs. Pierce, who has dealt with his own ankle issues, is being used the same way. The two were both on the floor Wednesday, when Boston tested itself against another East playoff team and came out on the wrong end of a 101-93 decision at home to the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce scored 23 points but Garnett and Jeff Green were each held to 11 in the setback.ABOUT THE HEAT (62-16):
Miami has posted the best record in franchise history, the top overall record in the NBA and long ago clinched the Eastern Conference. With nothing else left in the regular season, James and Bosh are officially listed as day-to-day. Wade, who has missed the last six games due to knee soreness, does expect to play limited minutes as he attempts to get back up to game speed. The Heat have stacked their roster with strong veterans over the last two seasons and have been able to win four straight and six of the last seven while relying on the likes of Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Mike Miller. Allen took the lead with 23 points in Wednesday’s win at Washington and Lewis has scored in double figures in three of the last four after barely cracking the rotation for the last four months.TRENDS:
* Celtics are 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games.
* Heat are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Over is 6-1 in Heat’s last seven vs. a team with a winning record.BUZZER BEATERS
1. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will play Friday, according to the Heat's official Twitter feed. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are out for Boston.
2. The Heat will play three of their final four games at home, with the lone trip another return to Cleveland for James on Monday.
3. Boston is 13-25 on the road and will play three of its last four away from TD Garden.