Reporting Tim Kephart
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BOSTON (CBSMiami) – The big question heading into Tuesday night’s game between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics isn’t who will be in the starting lineup, but instead who will be sitting out the next to last game of the season.
For the Heat, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are confirmed to miss the Boston game along with Ronny Turiaf.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra also has to decide whether to let LeBron James play and risk injury or sit him down for the final two games.
“Everything from here on out will be a daily decision,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The likely starting lineup for the Heat tonight will be: Mario Chalmers, Terrel Harris, James Jones, Udonis Haslem, and Dexter Pittman.
On the Celtics side, the team rested Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen in last Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Pierce and Rondo could miss the Heat game, though Pierce and Garnett are possibly playing.
“If I thought our guys were banged up, I’d sit them. That’s not even a question for me,” coach Doc Rivers told the Celtics’ official website. “I’m taking rest and rhythm over home court.”
The Heat are feeling confident with James capping an impressive season Spoelstra believes should earn him his third MVP.
James is averaging 27.1 points and has scored at least 30 six times this month.
“Every night I try to go out and be the MVP for our team,” James said. “Individual accolades take care of themselves. All I care about is team success and making my teammates happy.”
The Heat are 1-2 against the Celtics this season with Boston winning the last two games by stifling the Heat’s ability to get out on the run for a fast break. If Boston wins and Atlanta loses, the Celtics can move ahead of the Hawks to claim home court advantage for its’ first round matchup.
The Heat could possibly take the number one seed in the Eastern Conference from Chicago if the team wins its next two games and Chicago loses its next two. But, Chicago hosts Cleveland in its season finale, which makes that scenario less likely.
Once the Heat wrap up Tuesday and Thursday night’s games, the regular season will be over and all eyes will turn to the New York Knicks who are likely to be the Heat’s first round opponent, assuming the Heat don’t get the top seed.
The best news for Heat fans is the team is undefeated against the Knicks this season, 3-0. Amar’e Stoudemire looks ready to go for the playoffs, which will make the Knicks a formidable opponent for the Heat to open up the 2012 NBA Playoffs.