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BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 26: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat has words with Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden on October 26, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Heat lost 88-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chris Bosh;Kevin Garnett
Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Heat face off Sunday against fellow Eastern Conference championship contender the Boston Celtics at 1:00 p.m. in front of a national TV audience.
It is the Heat's first trip to Boston since a season-opening 88-80 loss in October -- and if the Heat's November loss to Dallas to fall to 9-8 was the nadir of the early part of the season, the October game foreshadowed the team's early stuggles.
While they very nearly pulled out a last-minute comeback that night, they were not a good offensive team and Heat haters had a field day after the loss. ESPN's Bill Simmons said the Big Three wouldn't contend for a title until they established a pecking order, adding that "Wade and LeBron awkwardly coexisted like two lead guitarists jamming at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert" and asserting that Dwyane Wade needed to "admit that LeBron is the better player."
(We hate to admit it, but he was kind of right on that one).
The two also met in November, a 112-107 Boston victory in Miami, but these are two different teams. Prior to opening night Miami's Big Three only played together for three minutes in the first preseason game before Dwyane Wade was shelved with a hamstring injury. They had yet to develop a rhythm as a trio, much less with their supporting cast. Since falling to 9-8, the Heat are an NBA-best 30-6.
Also different for this meeting: the Heat will be entering with sole possession of the best record in the Eastern Conference (39-14), holding a half-game lead over the 38-14 Celtics.
The Heat have played down the matchup heading into Sunday's game, with Wade telling the AP this week, "We just want to see where we're at. It's not as big as everyone seems to be making it."
But when the narrative of this season is written, this game will likely be considered a key development, win or lose.
Some other brief notes before the game:
David Hill is a Miami native and the former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.