The odds are not in the Boston Celtics' favor of ending a season-long six-game losing streak with LeBron James and the Miami Heat set to invade Beantown for a Sunday matinee.
The Celtics have slipped drastically since mid-January and suffered their sixth loss in a row Friday in a 123-111 double-overtime defeat at Atlanta. Hawks guard Kyle Korver helped his team erase a 27-point deficit by the second quarter by knocking down 8-of-12 3-pointers en route to a game-high 27 points.
"When we get a lead...we start acting like we're the 2008 (championship) team. We haven't earned that right," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Boston was blasted in the second overtime, 16-4, and was led by Rajon Rondo's second straight triple-double of 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He had 23 points, 11 assists and 10 boards in Thursday's loss to New York.
Kevin Garnett provided 24 points and 10 boards before fouling out early in the second OT for the Celtics, who last loss seven in a row from April 4-15, 2007 and committed 21 turnovers. Jeff Green and Courtney Lee scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, off the bench.
Boston is opening a four-game homestand Sunday and will play six of the next seven games at TD Garden, where it is 13-9 this season and has dropped three in a row. Paul Pierce had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Hawks and is one assist shy of matching Bill Russell (4,100) for fourth on the franchise's all-time list.
The Kings, Magic and Clippers are slated to visit Boston as well.
Meanwhile, Miami is in the thick of playing 10 of 12 games on the road and will begin a four-game excursion Sunday against Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Toronto.
The Heat have won four in a row and five of six games, including Friday's 110-88 home victory over the Detroit Pistons. Dwyane Wade poured in 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting and James chipped in 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Chris Bosh totaled 14 points and seven boards for Miami, which made 55.8 percent for the game despite burying only 5-of-17 3-point attempts.
"As we sharpen up our offensive set, he's starting to find sets that are suitable to him," Bosh said of Wade, who scored 17 points in a lopsided second quarter (30-20). "He's ready to get going back at it again."
Wade is averaging 30.3 ppg in his last three and scored a season-high 35 points versus Toronto on Wednesday.
"I'm just getting healthier," Wade said. "I'm being more active. I feel in a lot better shape than I was early in the year. Lately I've been put in the right position to be aggressive."
James' streak of reaching double figures in the first quarter ended at five games. The defending champion Heat target their third straight road win and own a 10-9 record away from south Florida. They are one of the league leaders in points with 102.8 ppg.
Heat veteran reserve Ray Allen will return to Boston for the first time as a member of Miami and won a title with the club a few years ago. Allen had 19 points in the first matchup with Boston, a 120-107 Miami triumph on Oct. 30 in the season opener for both teams. Wade scored 29 points in that one, while the Celtics were paced by Pierce's 23 points.
Boston has still won 17 of the last 21 meetings with the Heat and nine in a row in games played up north. Miami is just 4-13 in its last 17 trips to TD Garden. These two teams will play again March 18 and April 12.
The Sports Network