Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’
The Miami Heat come to Boston to take on the Celtics in Game 65 of this lockout-shortened regular season. Tonight’s contest will be their third meeting this month and the last of four matchups in 2011-12.
It is still mathematically possible for both the Heat (46-18) and the Celtics (37-27) to catch the teams just ahead of them, the Bulls and the Hawks respectively. However, this abbreviated schedule has taken a physical toll on both teams, and Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra may choose to rest their stars for the all-important postseason instead of going full throttle to improve their seeding.
Miami last played Sunday at home against the Houston Rockets. The Heat prevailed 97-88 playing without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron James made up for the absence of two thirds of the ‘Big 3’ with 32 points, 8 boards and 5 dimes.
Boston last played on Friday in Atlanta. The Celts lost 97-92 against their soon-to-be first-round opponent. But the 48 was far from a true preview of an upcoming playoff series. All of Beantown’s ‘Big 4’ of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and PG Rondo sat out the game.
2nd-year guard Avery Bradley scored a career-high 28 points in the defeat. With 16th-year, 10X All-Star Allen dinged-up, Bradley has started 16 of the past 17 games, and his production has exploded with added court time and confidence.
When these two recent rivals last met on April 10th in Miami, the C’s came out on top, 115-107. The Green were on fire offensively, shooting a season-high 61% from the field and 64% from beyond the arc. In fact, it was the best any team has shot against the Heat since their core of LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh got together last year. In the game, possible/probable league MVP James had 36, 7 and 7.
Both coaches have to make crucial decisions going into their final two regular season games. Is resting their key guys for the playoffs more important than possibly moving up in the Eastern Conference standings and locking down home court advantage? Should they bench their veterans and give added run to their younger guys to improve depth and expand rotation? Is it better to head into the first round on a hot streak or to sacrifice a couple wins in order to save the legs of their starters?
Tune in to TNT tonight at 8:00 PM ET to see which way Rivers and Spoelstra decide to play it.
The Miami Heat come to Chicago tonight to take on the NBA-leading Bulls. At 40-16, coach Spoelstra’s Heat currently sit three games behind coach Tom Thibodeau’s guys for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls, with a record of 44-14, have only 8 games remaining in the 2011-12 shortened schedule. And the Heat have only 10 games left. Neither side has any real worry about falling to the 3rd spot in the East. So what accounts for the air of uncertainty surrounding these elite teams so late in the regular season?
The Heat’s team defense has slipped at the most important time of year, and as a result the South Florida Superteam has gone a pedestrian 5-5 over their last ten contests. In these games, Miami has allowed 47.3 percent shooting from their opponents compared to their overall season average of 43.2 percent. On Tuesday night in Miami, the Heat allowed the Boston Celtics to shoot 60.6 percent from the field in a 115-107 loss. This FG percentage was the best shooting of any opponent that Miami has allowed since the formation of the Big 3 at the beginning of last season.
The Bulls (6-4 over the last ten ballgames) have their own concerns as of late. Their team leader and 2011 NBA MVP PG Derrick Rose is hurt again and listed as questionable for tonight’s 48. Rose suffered a sprained right ankle in Sunday’s loss at New York and missed the rematch victory on Tuesday night in ChiTown. This comes after the 4th-year superstar missed 12 straight games with a strained right groin from March 14th to April 5th. Rose has missed 23 games this year, however the rest of the roster has picked up the slack and gone 16-7 in his absence.
The Heat bested the Bulls in Miami on January 29th, 97-93. LeBron had 35 points, 11 boards and 5 dimes in the hard-fought ‘W’. On March 14th in Chicago, the Bulls held off the Heat 106-102 even though LeBron had 35 and Chicago-native Dwyane Wade put up 36, and Rose didn’t play. The deep and versatile Chicago squad did have six players in double figures led by John Lucas III with 24.
This evening’s matchup will be the third of four head-to-heads for these two Eastern Conference Title favorites. Clinching the number one seed in the East and earning home-court advantage in the playoffs would be a tremendous advantage to these power teams as they are both monsters at home (Miami is 24-4 and Chicago is 23-6).
Tune in to TNT tonight at 8:00 PM ET to see who gets a leg up when the Chicago Bulls host the Miami Heat.