You wouldn’t know it by listening to either local talk radio station, but there’s a big NBA basketball game tonight at TD Garden. The Miami Heat — maybe you’ve heard of them — are riding a 22-game win streak, tied for 2d-longest in NBA history. Only the Lakers have won more games consecutively, winning 33 straight during the 1971-72 season.
Kevin Garnett is questionable tonight after missing this morning’s shootaround, but the guess is he plays. With these stakes he’s going to do everything he can to get on the court.
If KG plays, here are five reasons why the Celtics have a good shot to win.
1. Avery Bradley defends Dwyane Wade well. Bradley’s defensive highlight reel may start with the clip above of him blocking Wade, but the main cog of the Celtics’ perimeter defense is as consistent as he is spectacular. He does an especially good job on Wade. The Celtics as a team do the same, as Wade’s 21.3 points and 43 percent shooting are his worst averages against any team. The Celtics are now 4th in the NBA in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions). They’ll stay in the game because of their work on that side of the ball.
2. The Celtics have something to play for. Miami has a 22-game win streak on the line. ESPN has been camped out on the 9th level of TD Garden since this morning. The Celtics are just 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks for Atlantic Division lead. They don’t like anything about tonight’s opponent. The Celtics aren’t anything if not prideful.
3. The Celtics are at home. Miami hasn’t played well in Boston, losing 10 straight regular season road games here. Bosh, James, and Wade have never beaten the Celtics in Boston during the regular season. The Celtics are 11-0 at home since losing Rondo.
4. The teams match up well. Miami is not a big team. Unlike an Indiana, they’re not going to throw two big men at you who can score on the low block. The Celtics have been playing small as well, using Jeff Green at power forward and even Paul Pierce at the four at times. You don’t want to get into a track meet with the Miami Heat, but the Celtics have players who can run. Pierce has historically matched up well with James one-on-one, at least well enough for the Celtics to stay home on James and not let others beat them.
5. It’s one game. This is not a seven-game series. The Celtics might not be able to get up to the level needed to beat Miami four times in seven games, but they’ve proven they can play at that level on any given night. They’ll need a complete team effort to do it.