Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (-8, 180)
THE STORY: The Miami Heat are looking to return to the NBA Finals for the second straight season against a Boston Celtics roster dealing with a short turnaround. The Celtics get just one day of rest before opening the Eastern Conference finals in Miami n Monday. The Heat completed a six-game series win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday while Boston dispatched of the Philadelphia 76ers in Saturday’s Game 7. The Celtics could have tired legs in the opener while Miami will be without injured Chris Bosh.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Point guard Rajon Rondo posted his ninth career playoff triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Boston’s 85-75 series-clinching win against the 76ers. He scored 11 of his points in the final four minutes after forward Paul Pierce fouled out. Rondo averaged 18.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 13.7 assists against the Heat in the regular season but didn’t record a single steal. “We feel we can beat Miami,” Rondo said. “We got to this point – there’s no doubt in my mind we can. We’ve got to go down there and take care of business.” Forward Kevin Garnett has played superb and has nine double-doubles in the postseason.
ABOUT THE HEAT: Bosh strained a lower abdominal muscle in the opening game of the Indiana series on May 13 and it remains unclear when he will return. Bosh has begun light conditioning work but isn’t considered close to hitting the court. “It’s my responsibility right now to prepare this team without him,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If and when it gets to a point where he starts to emerge into the picture, we would gladly deal with that because we’re a more dangerous offensive team and a more dangerous defensive team when he’s in the mix.” Guard Dwyane Wade averaged 33 points and forward LeBron James averaged 32.7 points over the final three games of the Pacers series.
*Celtics are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
*Home team is 11-4 ATS in the last 15 meetings.
*Over is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings in Miami.
*Over is 4-0 in Celtics' last four games as an underdog of 5.0-10.5 points.
1. Boston won three of the four regular-season meetings and beat Miami three times in April. The Heat notched a home win over the Celtics in December.
2. This is the third straight season in which the two teams have met in the playoffs. Miami eliminated Boston in five games in last season’s second round and the Celtics defeated the Heat in five games in the first round in 2010.
3. James (10) and Wade (eight) have combined for 18 20-point outings in the postseason.