Celtics Visit the 3 AmEGOS

Boston Celtics (6-2) at Miami Heat (5-3)
Thursday, November 11
8:00 PM ET
Game #9  Road Game #5
Radio:  WEEI, WAXY
American Airlines Arena 
Referees:  Monty McCutchen,  Pat Fraher,  Derek Richardson 

The Celtics are playing in their 3rd game of a 4 game road trip.  They played 5 games in 7 nights, winning 4 of the 5 games.   They have had the past 2 days off.   Miami is playing in the 3rd game of a 6 game home stand.  Both teams are coming off of a 2 point loss, the Heat having lost to the Jazz at home on Tuesday in spite of having a 47-21 free throw advantage in the game.

The Celtics have been a bit thin up front with both O'Neals struggling with knee injuries.  Jermaine sat out the second half of the Mavs game with knee pain, after a very ineffective first half.   Shaq traveled with the team on the road trip but did not play in either game so far. Shaq practiced on Wednesday while Jermaine did not.   As of now, it's not clear whether either of them will be available for this game but I have penciled Shaq in for the start.    The way it looks right now, both are going to try to play but neither will be 100% so the Celtics will still need big contributions from Big Baby and Semih. 

The Celtics have a few things going against them in this game.  For one, they are on the road while the Heat are in the middle of an extended home stand.  If the Jazz/Heat game is any indication, the Celtics may be playing against the Heat and the refs.  The Jazz had to overcome a 47-21 free throw disparity along with the Heat and I'm sure the Celtics will face similar odds.  Just a note on the referee assignments.  Derek Richardson is listed for 2 different games tonight so the 3rd ref may or may not be Richardson.    Also, the Heat are going to be looking for some payback for their opening night defeat and will have some added motivation because of it.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo   11.1 PPG, 14.8 RPG, 3.1 SPG
Carlos Arroyo   5.7 PPG,  2.0 APG,  0.4 SPG

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen 17.3 PPG,  2.4 APG,  .383 3P%
Dwyane Wade  24.1 PPG, 3.7 APG,  .381 3P%

Small Forward
Paul Pierce 19.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
LeBron James  20.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 7.9 APG

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett  15.0 PPG,  10.3 RPG,  .6 BPG
Chris Bosh  14.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG,  1.0 BPG

Shaquille O'Neal  8.7 PPG,  5.3 RPG,  0.3 BPG 
Joel Anthony  1.6 PPG,  4.1 RPG,  1.4 BPG

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Semih Erden

Kendrick Perkins (knee) out
Avery Bradley (ankle) out
Delonte West Suspended
Shaquille O'Neal (knee) day to day
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) day to day

Miami's Reserves
Udonis Haslem
Mario Chalmers
Juwan Howard
Eddie House
Jamaal Magloire
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Dexter Pittman
Jerry Stackhouse

Mike Miller (thumb)  out
James Jones (back) questionable

Key Matchups
Paul Pierce  vs  LeBron James
This is one of the better matchups in the league and these two have gone at each other in a lot of big games over their careers.  In their first meeting this season, Lebron finished with 31 points while Pierce had 19, but most importantly, the Celtics got the win.  Hero ball can't beat team ball.  LeBron has been playing point forward and Pierce will have to guard him as he brings the ball up and tries to set up the offense.

Kevin Garnett vs Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh always seems to be intimidated by KG.  I can't say as I blame him.  Hopefully that trend continues in this game and KG has another big game and can also keep Bosh in check.

Ray Allen vs Dwyane Wade
In the first meeting between these two teams, DWade was just coming coming back from an injury and he didn't play well.   We should see the real Dwyane Wade in this one and Ray is going to need to keep him running after him as he moves without the ball and he also must keep Wade from having a big game offensively.

Glen Davis vs Udonis Haslem
This is the battle of the 6th men.  Haslem is the Heat's best player off the bench.   Big Baby has to play well and lead the Bench Mob.

Keys to the Game
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics must limit their turnovers as the Heat will turn them into fast break points.

Rebound - The Celtics have to limit the Heat's second chance baskets and fast breaks by crashing the boards.

Defense -  The Heat are trying to make defense their calling card this season and have been doing a good job of it.  The Celtics have to make defense a priority as well.

Go to the Hoop
-  The Celtics settled for jumper after jumper against the Mavericks and it cost them in the end.  When you go to the basket, good things happen.  The Celtics have got to be aggressive in getting to the basket and not settle for jumpers all game.

Odd Fact
They were named the  Miami Heat following a contest, with the Heat beating out Flamingos and Waves among 20,000 entries.

Injuries can derail the Celtics in this game before they even start.  Hopefully at least one of the O'Neals will be available and healthy enough to play well.  Also hopefully Rondo's feet will be ok after a couple of days of rest.