SportsNet - January 2013
LeBron James and the 28-12 Miami Heat will face the 20-23 Boston Celtics, led by Rajon Rondo. The showdown takes place at the TD Garden 1:00 EST live on ABC. It is the second of three meetings between the two rival teams who met in the last Eastern Conference Finals. Dousing the flames to their rivalry is the fact that both teams are going in two different directions.
Before the season began, many NBA fans felt the Eastern Conference would be decided between these two teams as it did in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. While the Heat has lived up to the hype, the Celtics have struggled.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10) visits the Los Angeles Lakers (18-25) at 3:30 ET, they will be a 3½-point favorite. The game, shown live on ABC has a similar storyline as the Miami Heat – Boston Celtics matchup it follows.
Before the season, both the Thunder and Lakers were regarded as two of the top four or five teams in the NBA, let alone the Western Conference. NBA observers had the Thunder and Lakers on a collision course to face each other in the Western Conference Finals. The offseason predictions appear well off. The Thunder is among the elite teams in the Association, while the Lakers are in danger to miss the playoffs for only sixth time in franchise history.
When you toss out the records for both teams, you find a tantalizing contest featuring four of the NBA’s top-15 players. This game is filled with star power.
Barcelona will be looking to bounce back from their 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad when they take on Osasuna. The Blaugranas blew a two-goal lead in that game, but are still eight points clear at the top of La Liga. There are no new injury issues for Tito Vilanova, while David Timor will watch from the sidelines for Los Rojilos.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi pulled out of training on Friday with a muscle strain but is nevertheless expected to feature in the Primera Division encounter against Osasuna.
Defender Gerard Pique is suspended, while assistant coach Jordi Roura could opt to rotate his squad for the Camp Nou clash with one eye on Wednesday's Copa Del Rey semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
Osasuna boss Jose Luis Mendilibar may hand a debut to midfielder Francisco Silva, who was signed from Chilean side Universidad Catolica earlier this week. Asier Riesgo, David Timor, and Sisi are all unavailable through injury, while left-back Damia serves a one-match ban.
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken hand. New signing Diego Lopez will probably be thrown in immediately to try and create a partnership with his two centre-backs ahead of crunch games next month in the cup competitions. Influential centre back Pepe is also still out with an ankle injury. Apart from those two, Madrid have a full squad to choose from and may rest a couple of players ahead of the Copa Del Rey semi-final first leg against Barcelona on Wednesday. Madrid aren’t in the greatest of form in the league, only winning two of their last five matches, however are unbeaten at home in a staggering 21 matches in La Liga. They lie 3rd in the table, 7 points behind local rivals and namesake Athletico, and a whopping 15 points behind arch enemies Barcelona.
Miami Heat 28 - 12 at Boston Celtics 20 - 23
Result of last meeting: Boston 107 – Miami 120
The Miami Heat will be at the TD garden today for a matinee game against the Boston Celtics. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the NBA’s opening night. Today’s game will also be Ray Allen’s first game back at the Garden since leaving the Celtics for the Heat last summer. The Heat enters the game fresh off a 110 to 88 victory Friday night over the Detroit Pistons that pushes their winning streak to four games.
While the Heat have established themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference so far this season, the Celtics have continued to be a disappointment. Their losing streak was extended to six games after a depressing loss Friday night to the Atlanta Hawks where they blew a twenty-seven point lead and lost 123 to 111 in double overtime.