RIVALRY REINTERPRETED: Well, this feels different. Every visit to Miami used to be a big deal in recent seasons, especially when there was a sense that the two teams would cross paths again in the playoffs. With Boston navigating a murky transition period, a joust with the two-time defending champs loses a bit of its luster (particularly a random Saturday night matchup in November). Boston did its part by winning its last two games to spice things up a bit (and Miami has won three straight).
TOO HOT TO HANDLE? Miami ranks second in the league in offensive rating (109.1), and its Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can put up points in a hurry. The Celtics will lean hard on a defense that climbed to eighth in the league in defensive rating (97.3) after Friday's win in Orlando. But playing the second night of a back-to-back during a travel-heavy week will add a wrinkle of difficulty for Boston.
MISTAKE-FREE BASKETBALL: The Celtics were rather atrocious offensively Friday in Orlando (35.8 percent shooting) but still managed to escape with the win after taking care of the basketball (only 11 turnovers for eight points) and limiting second-chance opportunities (Magic grabbed 16 offensive rebounds but were held to 10 second-chance points). Jordan Crawford deserves a lot of the credit for slowing things down and helping Boston value the ball, taking a great deal of ballhandling responsibility off Avery Bradley.
WHAT ELSE? Jeff Green erupted for 43 points versus the Heat at the Garden in March (it lit his late-season fuse). Despite a rather nondescript start to the 2013-14 campaign, Green is vital to any success Boston will enjoy this season. Green does lead the team in scoring at 15.8 points per game this season. ... The Celtics were 2-of-14 shooting beyond the arc Friday. Through six games, Boston is shooting 26.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc. ... The Celtics are wrapping up a trip that featured five games in five cities over seven days.