The 2010-11 NBA season began on Oct. 26, when the Boston Celtics hosted the new-look Heat and held-off a late Miami rally to win, 88-80. Now, a little more than two weeks later, the teams meet again, this time in Miami, when the Celtics continue their four-game road trip Thursday night.
Since their first meeting, Boston has gone 5-2 and currently sits atop the standings in the Eastern Conference (a half game ahead of the Orlando Magic). Miami, meanwhile, also went 5-2 during the same stretch, but enters Thursday night's meeting having lost two of its last games, including Tuesday night's overtime loss to the Utah Jazz in which LeBron James and company blew a 22-point lead.
(Sports Network) - It was supposed to be easy for the star-studded Miami Heat this season. Talk of 70 wins and an NBA championship have been tempered by a somewhat pedestrian start, however, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh continue to learn how to play with each other.
Things don't figure to get any easier tonight as the Heat resume a six-game homestand against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.
Miami blew a 22-point lead on Tuesday in a 116-114 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz when Paul Millsap buried three straight 3-pointers to help force the extra frame and finished with a career-high 46 points to give Utah the win.
Wade scored 39 points and James finished with 20 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds to post his first triple-double for the Heat, who allowed more than 100 points for the first time this season. Miami was outscored 42-29 in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
"It's a very disappointing loss," said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra. "It's a lesson we'll learn from this game. The Utah Jazz kept on grinding after we took a 20-point lead in the first quarter. When they started the third quarter it was a lay-up drill, and I couldn't even recognize our defense."
Miami, which is 3-1 at home and one-half game behind both Orlando and Atlanta in the tough Southeast Division, will finish its current residency with games against Toronto, Phoenix and Charlotte.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are also coming off a tough loss on their own in Dallas on Monday. Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points and hit the game-winning jumper with 17.9 seconds left in that one, leading the Mavericks to an 89-87 victory over Boston.
Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 15 assists, but missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer in the closing moments, as Boston saw its five-game win streak come to an end and fell to 1-1 on a four-game road swing. Kevin Garnett also missed a shot at the buzzer, but scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a losing effort.
"We were looking for ball movement and good shots. The last play with one second was a terrible play," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I hope I can draw up a better play than that. There wasn't a lot of time. Listen, we missed some good shots down the stretch. I thought overall the ball stuck in our hands a lot."
Paul Pierce led the team with 24 points, while Ray Allen had 11 for the Celtics, who will finish their current trek by visiting Memphis on Saturday.
Boston has dominated this series recently, winning six straight and 12 of the last 13 meetings, including an 88-80 win in Beantown in the season-opener for both clubs back on Oct. 26.