Visit from Boston gives Heat shot at revenge
MIAMI — Sometimes you must wait weeks, months or even a year for revenge. The Miami Heat will only have to wait nine days for a shot at it.
On April 1, the Heat were walloped 91-72 at Boston for their worst defeat of the season. Now, they get a chance to face the Celtics on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, where Miami has won 18 of its past 19 games.
"We're looking forward to it," said forward Chris Bosh. "They smacked us pretty good. We didn't have a good game, so this is the one chance you can have to get a do-over. It's still fresh in our minds. It happened last week. We have a lot to remember about it."
The memories are all bad. In front of a national television audience, the Heat shot 34.8 percent. After the game, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear the loss was "unacceptable."
Usually, the Heat take a day off when flying home from a trip and not having an immediate game. But Spoelstra put his players through a 2 1/2-hour film and workout session the day after the debacle.
One could say it worked. The Heat won their next two games over Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, the latter perhaps the biggest win of the season. Yes, they did lose again 97-80 last Friday to Memphis, but they bounced back from that with a resounding 98-75 win Sunday over Detroit.
"Yeah, it's nice to get them on our home turf," Miami guard Dwyane Wade said of getting another crack at the Celtics so soon after the embarrassing defeat. "It will be good to play this game. I'm looking forward to the energy and excitement of the game. Every time we go against Boston, it's there. There's always that feeling from both teams. So we're going to get their best shot and they're going to get our best shot, and we'll see who wins."
Wade sat out against Detroit because of a sprained right ankle. But Monday, he pronounced himself ready to return, obviously having no desire to miss a game against Boston.
The Heat (40-15) have always respected the Celtics (32-24), and certainly nothing has changed lately. Since the All-Star break, Boston is 17-7, a better mark than Miami's 13-8.
And, of course, there was the walloping on April Fool's Day. Maybe Boston players had read something beforehand about somebody calling the Celtics old.
"That's motivation for them," Bosh said of talk by anybody that Boston, with Ray Allen being 36, Kevin Garnett 35 and Paul Pierce 34, is over the hill. "People have to realize that's great motivation when people tell you you're one thing and you think you're something else. That's a reason to work harder and that's a reason to keep going and not give up. They weren't going to give up anyway, so they have extra added motivation."
And, no, Bosh won't be calling the Celtics old anytime before Tuesday's game.
"Young, old, medium, whatever they are, they're a good team, no matter what," Bosh said.
And no rocking-chair quotes will be coming from Wade.
"You guys write them off," Wade said, referring to the media. "We don't. The players don't. You got guys who are Hall of Famers who still have a lot in the tank."
The Celtics have Allen, Garnett and Pierce — all bound for the Hall whenever they might finally retire. And point guard Rajon Rondo, a sixth-year man who has had 17 straight games of 10 or more assists, is playing as if he wants one day to get there himself.
Boston's resurgence after the All-Star break has been due in part by Rondo's impressive play and Garnett moving from starting power forward to center after Jermaine O'Neal was lost due to a wrist injury in late February and eventually ruled out for the season. Also, second-year guard Avery Bradley has blossomed to such a degree lately that Allen, who recently has missed six games because of an ankle injury, has come off the bench the past three games.
Heat forward LeBron James said Boston is "too good of a team" and "too well-coached" by Doc Rivers that, "I never get into that 'too old' mess." Asked if it's amazing the Celtics are making yet another run with their well-seasoned bunch, James didn't like that word choice.
"What's amazing about it? They got four probably Hall of Famers," said James, counting Rondo.
Nevertheless, James did admit the Celtics "caught us off-guard" in the last meeting and vowed that Miami will "be better prepared" Tuesday.
After all, the Heat's darkest day this season is still very fresh in everybody's mind.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson