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Preview: Celtics-Heat

02.03.10 at 10:37 am ET

The great Paul Pierce foot watch of 2010 began not with a Tweet from Shelden Williams, but with a report from respected NBA writer David Aldridge.

Taken on its own a Twitter update that reads: Man when it rains it pours!!! Yall find out what I mean soon!!!! could mean just about anything, besides a comical over-use of exclamation points. Taken with Aldridge’s nebulous report that Pierce “may have a broken foot,” suddenly one little Tweet takes on a whole new signifigance. Attempts to blame Williams in particular, and Twitter in general, for causing a firestorm are off the mark.

No doubt someone told Aldridge something at 4:51 p.m., but the fact that the doctor attending to Pierce had not yet examined the medical records, and the fact that the tests were not even completed, should have given him pause and allowed the process to play out as it should have in the first place. There are still many questions regarding Pierce’s health, but until he speaks on the matter, everything should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

CELTICS (30-16, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 99.1

Points Allowed: 93.7

Differential: +5.6 (3rd)

Offensive Efficiency: 107.5 (13th)

Defensive Efficiency: 101.6 (1st)

Pace: 91.6 (22nd)

Likely Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce (Foot, questionable) Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins

Injuries: Marquis Daniels (Thumb)

HEAT (24-24, 4-6 last 10)

Points Per Game: 96.8

Points Allowed: 96.4

Differential: +.4 (15th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.6 (16th)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.1 (12th)

Pace: 90.7 (28th)

Likely Starters: Rafer Alston, Dwyane Wade, Quentin Richardson, Michael Beasley, Joel Anthony

Injuries: Jermaine O’€™Neal (Back spasms; questionable), Mario Chalmers (Thumb)

Key Matchup: Ray Allen vs. Dwyane Wade

Over the years Allen has done a creditable job of guarding Wade, which is a thankless task even on its best days. It’s one of the paradoxes of Allen’s reputation as a less-than adept at defender that he has guarded Wade and Kobe Bryant as well as anyone on the team. While Bryant is a tough cover because of his ability to make shots at any angle–witness Sunday’s game-winner–Wade is more of a bull in a china shop whose aim is to live at the free throw line. Wade averages better than nine trips a game to the line for the season and in an earlier matchup he got there 16 times in a 44-point performance. The goal is to keep Wade to around 10 free throws and hope for the best.

The Heat in a Paragraph: This is a transition season for Miami who will have the ability to construct an entirely new roster in the summer. The only player to whom they have any kind of a commitment to is Beasley and he is on his rookie contract. There are still doubts about his maturity, but in his second season Beasley is showing all the signs of becoming a monster scorer  and rebounder. The question for Beasley, and the Heat, is whether he becomes a perennial All-Star or Derrick Coleman, 2.0.

The Celtics in a Paragraph: With or without Pierce this is another important stretch for the Celtics before the All-Star break next weekend. They have four games in the next week before getting a much-needed break and there is much for them to sort through if they are going to pull it together. Rajon Rondo raised the issue of competing agendas to the Herald and that’s a word that has never been uttered regarding the Celtics since Allen and Garnett came aboard. Rondo’s comments open up a Pandora’s Box of issues beyond any festering locker room dissent. It’s unclear who Rondo was referring to, but if this becomes a young player vs. old veteran issue, the Celtics may have real problems.

What to Watch For: Miami has not won a game against a team with a winning record since Jan. 15 when the Heat defeated Houston and they have slipped behind Charlotte and Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings. This is also the start of a tough three-game road swing for Miami before the break. Normally, this would be a prime opportunity for the Celtics to catch a mediocre team at the right time, but things are anything but normal with the Celtics right now.

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