Posted March 31, 2012 on
AP on Fox
The Big Three continue to lead the way for the Miami Heat, who seem unlikely to relinquish control of the Southeast Division lead down the stretch.
While Ray Allen has missed the last five games, the Boston Celtics have climbed to the top of the Atlantic behind tremendous efforts from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Looking to continue their recent success in this series, the Heat try to avoid an eighth consecutive regular-season road loss to the Celtics as these Eastern Conference rivals square off Sunday afternoon.
After a dominating performance in last season's conference semifinals, Miami (37-13) improved to 6-1 over the last seven meetings in this series with a home-opening 115-107 win Dec. 27. Allen scored 28 in that game while Rajon Rondo added 22 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for Boston (29-22), which couldn't keep up down the stretch with Pierce sidelined due to a bruised right heel.
The Celtics could be shorthanded again in this one with Allen's status up in the air due to a sore right ankle. Boston, however, hasn't missed a beat during Allen's absence thanks in large part to Pierce and Garnett.
While Pierce has averaged 22.3 points during the Celtics' 6-1 run, the 35-year-old Garnett has recorded 23.7 per game on 59.3 percent shooting over the last three.
"I hear you all calling me old. I hear you all calling me ... weathered," Garnett told the team's official website after Wednesday's 94-82 win over Utah. "I'm motivated. It doesn't really take much to motivate me, man. I'm older in basketball years, but in life I'm 30-something."
Garnett had a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds Friday in Minnesota while Pierce posted 21 and nine as Boston surpassed Philadelphia for first place with a 100-79 rout. Rondo dished out 17 assists, giving him at least 10 in 12 straight games.
The Heat, meanwhile, defeated Toronto 113-101 on Friday for just their third win in their last nine on the road. Miami shot 57.1 percent and outscored the Raptors 64-36 in the paint, closing on a 24-12 run.
"I just think the fourth quarter we just know that's winning time for us - it's not saying that the first three quarters we don't play with a sense of urgency - but those last 12 minutes ... we finished it off at the end," said LeBron James, who had 26 points and nine assists.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each had 30 points while Mario Chalmers chipped in 14 as Miami increased its division lead to six over Orlando.
"It's hard to contain (Miami's) offense," said Toronto's DeMar DeRozan. "They move the ball well and they know what they're looking for. When you have three All Stars on your team it makes it tough to cover all of them."
While James and Wade get much of the attention, more big nights from Bosh could be key going forward. Miami is 12-0 when Bosh scores at least 24 points and 17-2 when he has at least 20.
"You got to be fired up to win basketball games. It's a rough league," Bosh told the league's official website. "You just have to bring energy and that's how I have fun, I just bring some energy, play as hard as possible and let it all hang out."
Miami, which is 26-3 when scoring at least 99 points, has been limited to an average of 89.0 during its seven-game regular-season skid in Boston.
Ranking second in the league with 85.5 points per contest surrendered on its own court, the Celtics have outscored opponents by an average of 10.0 points during a season-best seven-game home winning streak.
Miami's Udonis Haslem is expected to rejoin the team Sunday after missing Friday's contest due to personal reasons.
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AROUND THE WEB
Sherrod Blakely has an update on Ray Allen's ankle:
"It feels good; it feels fine," Allen said. "I'll know a little better later on."
Allen, who has missed the Celtics' last four games with the injury, will go through his usual pre-game routine which involves getting to the arena early and get up some shots.
He did that prior to the C's win...
The Boston Celtics have been without one of their Big Three for 10 games this season. Interestingly enough, they have won 9 out of those 10 games. This subject has been a topic of many articles recently and a big discussion on several CLNS Radio Postgame Shows. Will the Celtics be better off with Ray [...]
Ray Allen could return on Friday, which is good news for the Celtics even if they are 3-1 in his absence. Allen traveled with the Celtics for their one-game road trip to Minnesota, so that could be an indication that he will play for the first time since missing last Friday's game in Philadelphia with a sore ankle. If Allen can go, expect Celtics coach Doc Rivers to pencil him...
THANKS FOR NOTHING
Even without a title, Kevin Garnett had his best years in Minnesota, but when asked about the past, he couldn't find anything nice to say about his former squad.
If my calculations are correct, Pierce averaged 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals this week, while being overlooked by fans in favor of heaping praise on Kevin Garnett and/or Rajon Rondo approximately 15,398,387 times. (Note: Don’t take that as an insult to KG or Rondo. Both deserve all the praise they’ve gotten, just like Pierce deserves a lot more praise...
Ray Allen participated in the team shoot around and is expected to be reinserted into the Celtics starting lineup tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes, despite the title of this article I do think this is a good thing. Allen has missed the last four games for the Celtics nursing a sore ankle that he aggravated in a 102-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks back on March...
Entering Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves… the Celtics were riding high upon a three-game winning streak! The result: a resounding 100-79 victory and occupancy of First Place in the Atlantic Division. Even though Ray Allen was out and has missed the last five games, the Celtics ended the month with a steadfast march toward and into First Place!
The Celtics started strong and finished even stronger in tonight's 100-79 victory over the Wolves.
Kevin Garnett was phenomenal: 24 points, 12-18 FG, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block. He dropped 10 points in the 4th quarter. The Wolves tried to make a run midway thru the 4th, but Garnett slammed the door. After re-entering the game (Stiemsma fouled out) at the 5:26 mark,...
It's not often that an NBA player gets duped by a playground move but check out this clip from yesterday's Heat/Celtics affair as Paul Pierce ends up giving Heat forward Shane Battier an easy basket.The play happened midway through the second quarter during a Miami in-bounds play as Pierce had his back turned and Shane saw the opportunity to bounce it off his back for an easy hoop:
BOSTON -- One of these days, Kevin Garnett may have to sit out a game. Garnett won't like it -- he has played in 47 out of a possible 50 games this season, after all, and has appeared in more than 90 percent of his team's games in 12 separate seasons -- but eventually Celtics coach Doc Rivers is going to have to break the bad news to his veteran non-center. If it becomes...
8 a.m.: LeBron James and the Miami Heat visit the TD Garden on Sunday in what could be a first-round playoff preview. The Heat (37-13) hold the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and as recently as three days ago were slated to meet the Celtics (29-22) in the opening round. The Celtics' move into the Atlantic Division lead changed that, and their success down the stretch will...
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