June 25, 2024

The Celtics will seek redemption as they enter the first round of the NBA playoffs. Facing off against the Miami Heat for the third consecutive postseason, Boston aims to avenge their defeat to Miami in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

There's something special about this Boston Celtics team - CelticsBlog

The series is scheduled to commence on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at TD Garden.

Securing the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Heat clinched their playoff berth with a 112-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls in the NBA’s Play-In tournament on Friday night. This marks Miami’s second consecutive season claiming the final playoff spot in the East, setting the stage for Erik Spoelstra’s squad to disrupt the competition once more.

In the previous postseason, the Heat disrupted the playoff plans of the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round and later upset the Celtics in a thrilling seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite Boston’s superior performance throughout the season, they allowed the Heat to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Although the Celtics managed to mount a comeback with three consecutive wins, they fell short in Game 7, succumbing to a disappointing defeat on their home court and ending their season prematurely.

Miami consistently poses a challenge for their opponents, instilling a sense of unease among fans whenever they step onto the court. However, this time, Boston won’t have to contend with Jimmy Butler, who will be sidelined for several weeks due to an MCL injury suffered on Wednesday night. Additionally, Terry Rozier’s availability for the series remains uncertain as he continues to recover from a neck injury.

With the Heat dealing with key injuries, they’ll heavily rely on Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and rookie Jamie Jaquez Jr. Contrastingly, the Celtics enter the series at full strength, boasting their status as the superior team. Boston is determined to capitalize on their successful regular season, where they amassed 64 wins and achieved a historic plus-11.7 net rating.

However, the Celtics must remain vigilant and avoid underestimating the Heat, a mistake that cost them dearly in previous encounters. They cannot afford to lose games they should win or allow the series to drag on unnecessarily. In the playoffs, every opponent must be taken seriously, and the Celtics are well aware of this. Nevertheless, they are poised to dispatch the Heat swiftly and advance in their pursuit of the franchise’s 18th title.

In their regular-season matchups, the Celtics dominated the Heat, winning all three encounters. Their most commanding victory came on Jan. 25 in Miami, where they secured a 33-point blowout win, highlighted by a balanced offensive display led by Jayson Tatum’s 26 points.

Their first meeting of the season saw the Celtics triumph 119-111 at home, with Derrick White leading the charge with 28 points. Despite a late comeback attempt by the Heat in their last matchup on Feb. 11, the Celtics held on for a 110-106 victory, with Tatum’s near-triple-double sealing the win.

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Expect some tension between Jaylen Brown and Duncan Robinson in the upcoming series, especially after their altercation in their last encounter resulted in verbal sparring. We’ll have to wait and see if there are any lingering grudges when the series begins on Sunday. (It’s highly likely.)

This upcoming series marks the seventh playoff encounter between the Celtics and the Heat, with Miami emerging victorious in four of the six prior matchups, all occurring since 2010. Notably, this will be their fourth postseason clash in the last five years.

Their first playoff encounter was in 2010, where the Celtics triumphed in five games, propelled by the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Subsequently, the Heat bolstered their roster with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, defeating the Celtics in five games in the 2011 East semifinals before falling to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

In 2012, the Celtics and the Heat squared off again, this time for a spot in the NBA Finals. Despite the Celtics taking a 3-2 series lead, LeBron James led the Heat to victory in Games 6 and 7, eventually clinching his first championship against the Thunder.

Their next playoff clash came in 2020 within the NBA Bubble, where the Heat prevailed in six games despite the Celtics being favored. The Eastern Conference Finals rematch occurred in 2022, with the Celtics emerging victorious in seven games, ultimately losing to the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Last summer’s encounter between the Celtics and the Heat was particularly bitter. After falling behind 3-0, the Celtics rallied to force a Game 7, only to be decisively defeated on their home court, ending their championship aspirations.

Following that disappointment, Brad Stevens orchestrated significant roster changes, including trading Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis and acquiring Jrue Holiday for Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon. Despite these alterations, the core Celtics players understand the importance of not underestimating their first-round opponent.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

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