It’s been 101 days since the Miami Heat knocked out the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference final. There will be a lot less in play and a few new faces on either side when they arrive for Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. rematch in South Florida.
The two teams were inconsistent at first as they tried to find a rhythm while working their way through health issues. Bam Adebayo still expects the Celtics to have extra motivation.
“I feel like they’re going to come out with the same intensity as the Bucks just for the simple fact that we knocked them out in the Eastern Conference Finals,” Adebayo told the Miami Herald. “They must have watched us play in the final so of course they’re going to hold a grudge. It’s human nature. But it’s our job to go out there and counter that and bring our intensity. “
The Bucks, whom the Heat also knocked out of the bubble, split a two-game streak in Miami on December 29 and 30.
The Heat have a rotation almost similar to that of the team that eliminated the Celtics. They added former Celtic and Laker Avery Bradley and drafted Precious Achiuwa, who has already shown promise. Jae Crowder signed with the Suns.
Bradley told the Miami Herald that playing for the Celtics was always special to him.
“This is my home,” Bradley said of Boston. “Being there for seven years, they’re always going to mean something to me. Me being a competitive player, every time I face them I want to go out there and play even at a higher level. But I enjoy whenever I can play against, I guess you can tell, my home team because they made me who I am today.
Since their elimination in the playoffs, Boston has lost Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Brad Wanamaker in free agency. On top of that, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and potentially newcomer Jeff Teague are on the shelf.
Brad Stevens expected Teague to be day to day with an ankle injury after being out on Monday night. His status for Wednesday has not yet been determined. Rookie goalie Payton Pritchard will look to capitalize on his 23-point breakout effort against the Raptors. The Celtics will be looking for their third straight victory and fifth in their last six games.
Boston is hoping new big man Tristan Thompson has more success slowing down Adebayo than his frontcourt in September. Adebayo averaged 21.8 points and 11.0 rebounds against the Celtics in the playoffs. He picked up where he left off this season, leading Miami with 19.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The Heat got a boost on Monday night when Jimmy Butler, who suffers from an ankle injury, looked more like himself. He had 19 points and six assists in 26 minutes against the Thunder.