Heat-Celtics Preview

For both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, resting stars

appears to be the priority over any possible improvement in

postseason positioning.

The Celtics, though, could have a bit more help Tuesday night as

they try for a third win this month over the Heat, who may be

without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Miami only has a slim chance of catching Chicago for the top

seed in the Eastern Conference, but Boston has a better shot of

getting home-court advantage in its first-round series against


The Celtics (37-27) still opted to rest Paul Pierce, Kevin

Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in Friday’s 97-92 loss to the

Hawks. Pierce and Garnett could return Tuesday, but Allen (ankle)

and Rondo (back) remain day-to-day with injuries.

Allen, who has missed seven straight games, sat out Monday’s

practice along with Rondo, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma.

“If I thought our guys were banged up, I’d sit them. That’s not

even a question for me,” coach Doc Rivers told the Celtics’

official website. “I’m taking rest and rhythm over home court.”

While Boston has the No. 4 seed in the East via the Atlantic

Division title, it needs to gain a game on fifth-seeded Atlanta

over the final two contests in order to start the postseason at


The Heat (46-18) would need to win twice and have the Bulls lose

two to get the No. 1 spot, a scenario that seems unlikely with

Chicago hosting Cleveland in its finale Thursday.

Miami has not said how it will proceed after it bounced back

from a tough loss to Washington on Saturday with a 97-88 victory

Sunday against Houston. Wade and Bosh sat out along with Mario

Chalmers (flu) and Ronny Turiaf (hamstring).

Bosh has missed the last four games with muscle fatigue in his

legs, while Wade dislocated his left index finger Saturday.

James rested Saturday, but had 32 points, eight rebounds and

five assists Sunday. It’s unclear if he’ll play in the final two


“Everything from here on out will be a daily decision,” coach

Erik Spoelstra said.

The Heat are feeling confident with James capping an impressive

season Spoelstra believes should earn him his third MVP.

James is averaging 27.1 points and has scored at least 30 six

times this month.

“Every night I try to go out and be the MVP for our team,” James

said. “Individual accolades take care of themselves. All I care

about is team success and making my teammates happy.”

He had 36 points April 10 against the Celtics, but Boston won

115-107 in Miami. The Celtics have won both meetings this month

after the Heat won 115-107 on Dec. 27.

Another victory for the Celtics may help them pull even with

Atlanta, which hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Boston

has the tiebreaker over the Hawks.

“Home court is great; you want to have home court,” Pierce said.

“You want to try to play for home court, but at the end of the day

you want to be healthy first.

“I mean, we’re definitely a better home team than we are a road

team, but at this point we feel like if we’re healthy we have a

chance in anybody’s building. We’ve shown we can beat anybody in

the Eastern Conference in their building.”

The Celtics look especially formidable after the emergence of

Avery Bradley, who has started 16 of the last 17 games with Allen

banged up. The second-year guard is averaging 15.5 points in that

stretch after scoring a career-high 28 on Friday.