Tied for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, one team will take a stranglehold on the race for home-court through at least the first two playoff rounds Sunday when the Celtics and Heat meet in Miami. Boston is 3-0 in the season-series between the clubs, and has won 18 of its last 20 games against the Heat since April 2007.
But if Miami finds a way Sunday, that Celtic dominance may be temporarily forgotten.
"Let's toss the ball up and play," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. "We think we're a different team than the last three times we've played them, but until we prove it in between the lines, it doesn't matter." The Heat are understandably thrilled that Game 4 of the regular-season series is in Miami. That won't be the case if Game 4 of a potential Heat-Celtics postseason series is also in Miami.
The No. 1 seed in the East has been locked up by the Chicago Bulls, and in some order, seeds 2 and 3 will go to Miami and Boston. So that means the Heat and Celtics will be slotted to meet in the East semifinals -- where Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 would be hosted by the higher seed.
"This is a big game for us," Boston forward Paul Pierce said in a story published on the team's website, Celtics.com. "That's what we are playing for, for the home court advantage. Not only for the first round, but hopefully we will see them in the second round. This is a big game for us when you are talking about seeds and trying to advance in the playoffs. It's huge."