Heat, Celtics showdown starts tonight
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (AP):
Here's some of what to know going into the Eastern Conference finals:
Phoenix went 8-0 in the bubble and Toronto went 14-5 -- the best records of any team at Disney since the season resumed July 30. But those squads are home now, so the best records of any club remaining in the bubble belong to Boston (13-6) and Miami (11-6). Both teams are shooting 36 per cent from 3-point range in the bubble, both shooting 46 per cent from the field in the bubble, Miami are shooting 82 per cent from the foul line while Boston are at 80 per cent.
Heat President Pat Riley played against the Celtics only once in the playoffs -- and that was in the last play-off appearance of his career. That was just the start of the Riley versus Celtics rivalry, however. He faced them three times as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals (going 2-1), and the Heat have played Boston in the postseason three times during Riley's stint as Miami's top executive (going 2-1). Riley and Celtics President Danny Ainge have had a less-than-friendly history as well, which only adds to the spice of this series.
CONFERENCE FINAL EXPERIENCE
The Celtics have seven players who have been on teams that reached the conference finals before, with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart's 12 games in this round before leading the way. Miami also has seven players who have been part of conference-final teams, with Udonis Haslem's 38 appearances and Andre Iguodala's 22 leading their list. All told, players from the current Heat roster have appeared in 80 conference-final games, the current list of Celtics in 47.
Among current NBA franchises, only the Los Angeles Lakers have a better record in play-off series than the Celtics and Heat. The Lakers have won 71 per cent of their series all-time, the Celtics 68 per cent and the Heat 61 per cent.
All three games of their regular-season series were the second night of back-to-backs for the Heat. None of them were back-to-backs for Boston, which had two days off before one of the games and a single off day for the other two contests. And obviously, there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs.