National Basketball Association
Heat-Celtics Preview
National Basketball Association

Heat-Celtics Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 7:48 p.m. ET

The race to win the ultra-competitive Southeast Division has fittingly come down to the final day, and the Miami Heat have the simplest path.

It's not necessarily the easiest, however.

The visiting Heat can wrap up a fifth division title in six years Wednesday night by earning this season's first win over the Boston Celtics, who are seeking to secure home-court advantage for the opening round of the playoffs.

Miami (48-33) moved into a tie atop the Southeast with Atlanta with a 99-93 win in Detroit on Tuesday, its fourth in five games but just its second in six road contests. Joe Johnson provided 25 points, his second-most in 23 games with the team.


"To get a win on the road at this time of the year, when you're desperate, is good as we go into the playoffs," guard Dwyane Wade said. "There are going to be moments like that in the playoffs, where you go on the road, and you might need a win. The mentality that we had today was very good. I like to see the growth in us."

The Heat hold the tiebreaker over the Hawks by going 3-1 in the season series. Charlotte is one game behind both teams, and Miami would also win out in the event of a three-way tie.

The Heat can avoid the latter scenario by beating the Celtics (47-34) for the first time in three tries.

"We're a desperate team at this point. We know what's at stake. We've got to treat it like a Game 7," Johnson said.

Miami has lost each of the previous two meetings by double digits, falling 101-89 at TD Garden in the most recent matchup Feb. 27, part of a 14-game home win streak for the Celtics.

Boston suffered just its third loss in the past 21 contests on its own floor Monday, 114-100 to Charlotte, matching a season low for points in a quarter with 13 in the second. The Celtics were also beaten 118-107 in Atlanta on Saturday and are one game behind the Hawks for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.

They also have the same record as Charlotte but occupy fifth place because they won two of this season's three meetings.

Boston can gain home court with a victory and an Atlanta win in Washington on Wednesday night, which would give the Hawks the Southeast crown.

"We'll do everything we can to control that and it starts with a win (Wednesday)," guard Isiah Thomas told the team's official website. "Hopefully we can get fourth place and have home court in the first round because it will definitely help us."

Wade is averaging 27.7 points in his last three games against Boston. He scored 30 in a 105-95 home defeat Nov. 30.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley had 25 points in that game but was held to nine against the Heat in February. Thomas is averaging 10.7 points on 26.8 percent shooting - including a 2-of-11 performance from 3-point range - in his last three matchups.

Boston hasn't swept a regular-season series from Miami since winning three games in 2009-10. The Celtics haven't gone 4-0 against the Heat since 2007-08.


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