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Tonight's game against the Miami Heat will be an important benchmark for the Boston Celtics.

Miami  has been steamrolling  the league with a 22 game winning streak. That is tied for the second longest winning streak in NBA history. But before we crown them omnipotent you must put those wins into perspective.

Thanks to the schedule makers, the Heat have had a favorable schedule thus far. One example of this was when the Heat faced the Spurs earlier in the year. Before the streak. San Antonio coach Greg Popovich not only DNP'd Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green, he sent them home.  This was a nationally televised game and by his actions, he told the commissioner to shove it.

San Antonio was coming off a grueling road trip and LeBron and company had been sitting at home for a week. That did not seem fair to anyone, least of all the Spurs front office who gladly paid the fine.

During this winning streak they have played only seven teams over the .500 mark. Two of which are the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers. Chicago has overachieved, but they are no match for the Heat without Derrick Rose. Indiana's Paul George is just coming into his own and has yet to figure out how to completely take over the game. When and if he does, he could be a perennial all-star.

We can discount OKC, because until Russell Westbrook figures out how to make his teammates better they will never beat Miami. The same can be said of Dwight Howard and the Lakers. Until Howard understands winning championships are not a "me" proposition, Los Angeles will continue to struggle. Memphis gives them trouble because of their front line of Marc Gasol and Zac Randolph, but without a solid two or three man who is a professional scorer, they will be just another "what-if" team.

They played an injured Clippers team without Chris Paul and a New York Knicks team whose star player Carmelo Anthony needs the majority of the shots and the ball in his hands at all times. Anthony could be a championship player but his style of play and lack of assists, says selfishness.

They faced a Rudy Gay led Toronto Raptor team that couldn't compete with them. Gay in particular shriveled in the moment and didn't provide the veteran leadership that they needed.  It didn't matter if they won it was about effort and it was clear that they didn't have it. Do you still think that the Grizzlies miss or need him?

15 of the Heat's wins have come against under .500 teams. Boston's South Beach rivals have struggled against those teams too. The lowly Sacramento Kings took them into overtime. They also needed a last second shot from LeBron James to beat the Orlando Magic on March 6th.


The emergence of Jeff Green and the continued development of Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford has changed the dynamics of this Celtic team.

AB is finally healthy and his defensive presence against Dwyane Wade will be a great match-up. I am sure that Wade remembers Bradley's block from last season and is itching to redeem himself. They have not met this version of Crawford, who is making the effort to learn.

They will face a Celtic team that beat them at the Garden in January without Rajon Rondo. That win alone gives Boston confidence that they may be able to beat Miami again.

Frances 3/18/2013 02:32:00 PM Edit
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