Celtics, Heat battle for No. 2 seed in East

With the No. 1 seed belonging to the Chicago Bulls, Sunday’s contest between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat could go a long way toward determining the conferences No. 2 seed.

While neither team can clinch the spot with a win, the victorious team will come a lot closer to gaining home-court advantage for a potential meeting in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The two teams enter with identical 55-24 records, but the Celtics own a 3-0 head-to-head advantage over the Heat this season, which could turn out to be the determining factor.

If Boston wins on Sunday it would need just one win in its final two games (at Wizards, vs Knicks) to clinch the number two seed.

Even if the Heat defeat the Celtics, they would still have to finish a full game ahead of Boston to clinch the two seed, meaning they would likely have to win their final two games or hope Boston is tripped up at least once more.

While Miami comes in as the hotter team, recent history tells us to expect Boston to come out victorious.

The Celtics have won eight straight against the Heat and 14 of the last 15 overall.

While most of that has come against the Heat without LeBron James and Chris Bosh there to help Dwyane Wade, Boston’s “Big Three” have impressive records against each of the Heat newcomers too.

James had the most success against the Boston’s trio of stars going 6-5 against the Celtics with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, before this season.

While that might not seem so bad, consider that James’ Cavaliers had a win percentage over .700 against all other opponents during that span.

When he was with the Toronto Raptors, Bosh struggled like the Wade-led Heat, going just 1-9 against Boston when in the lineup over the previous three seasons.

Expect a defensive battle as both teams come in ranked second (Miami) and third (Boston) respectively in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage.

In two of the three meetings both teams were held under 90 points.

Percent of FGA by Shot Distance Previous 3 Meetings

The thing to watch offensively is where each team takes the majority of its field goal attempts.

In the previous three meetings, Boston was more effective getting to the rim, as 37 percent of their shot attempts came within five feet.

Meanwhile, the Heat settled for lots of long jump-shots, taking over 55 percent of their field goal attempts from 15 feet and beyond.

No one player on the Heat has personified this more than Dwyane Wade, who is 12-for-45 from the field in the three games this season against Boston. He has especially struggled with his jump shot, shooting just 5-for-21 on jumpers in the half court.