- Ray Allen will be making his first appearance as a member of the Miami Heat at the TD Garden this afternoon. The Hall of Fame shooting guard turned down a two-year contract extension from his former team this offseason to sign with the defending NBA champions for less money. Allen spent much of the pregame chatting with former teammates and Celtics employees on the floor. Despite jumping to Boston’s Eastern Conference rival, Doc Rivers hopes the Boston crowd will greet Allen with appreciation for his contributions in Boston over the past five seasons. “We shouldn’t focus on why he left or where he went. We should embrace and celebrate what he did for us when he was a Celtic,” Rivers said.
- Despite Allen’s return, the Celtics come into this afternoon’s matchup with bigger issues, trying to snap the longest losing streak of The Big Three era. Boston has dropped six straight games, their biggest slide since the 2006-2007 season when they dropped 18 straight. In hopes of shifting the team’s recent woes, Rivers decided to insert rookie power forward Jared Sullinger into the starting lineup, in place of the struggling Brandon Bass to help jumpstart the team’s starting unit.
- In spite of Boston’s recent struggles, Miami head coach Erik Spolestra is under no illusions about the toughness of facing this veteran Celtics team, especially at the TD Garden. “It always raises the hair on your back when you come into this building,” Spolestra explained.
- Unlike the Celtics, the Heat have bounced back from a tough four-game road trip in which they finished 1-3 to win their past four consecutive games in convincing fashion to put themselves back atop the standings in the Eastern Conference. A key to the resurgence has been the improved play of Dwayne Wade, who is averaging 26.5 ppg on 59 percent shooting during the team’s hot streak, along with 5.5 rpg, 6.3 apg, and 2.5 spg. All of those numbers surpass Wade’s season averages.
– Brian Robb