No, this isn’t Paul Pierce driving to the lane against Lebron, or Kevin Garnett bodying up Chris Bosh in the post, but believe it or not, tonight’s Celtics/Heat matchup has legitimate playoff implications. As of this afternoon, our beloved Celtics are clinging on to the 8th and final playoff seed in the East (half game up on Charlotte, one up on Indiana) and trail the Heat by a game for that 7th seed and a date with the aforementioned “King” James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I know, I know. Chances are Cleveland would take care of us pretty easily. But wouldn’t it be special to steal a game (or two) and see Lebron sweat it out, maybe incite another subliminal tweet shot at Kevin Love, or ream out Coach Blatt on the sidelines? But I digress… These Miami Heat have a few familiar faces on the roster, but are simply not the same team as years past. With Chris Bosh out for the remainder of the season, fresh off a blowout loss at OKC on Sunday (93-75), and a heartbreaking loss last night on a buzzer beating three at Milwaukee (back to back, I hear the creaking in Mr. Wade’s knees…) this game represents the perfect opportunity for our Celtics. With spark-plug and scoring machine Isaiah Thomas expected to return, and fresh off a 19 point win at Brooklyn on Monday, the stars seem to be aligning for tonight’s game. An added bonus is that Miami should be without resurgent 7 foot big man Hassan Whiteside, who received 10 stitches last night after cutting his hand. Whiteside has averaged 11 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game and is a legitimate Most Improved Player of the Year candidate. This could be a significant loss for the Heat, and would open up driving lanes and easier finishing opportunities for Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and the rest of the C’s ball handlers. I expect this to be a tight one up until the final few minutes, but I have a hunch come about 10 o’clock tonight, our Celtics could be sitting in 7th place in the East, with that date against Cleveland lined up again.
Prediction: 101-94 Celtics