No extra motivation needed when the hated Heat come to Boston.
LeBron James‘ 45-point masterpiece on their own floor that kept them from reaching the NBA Finals last year, Ray Allen swapping sides over the summer, and recent years of bad blood and great games would’ve had the Celtics ready Monday night.
Now throw in the chance to end Miami’s 22-game winning streak.
“If there’s any group that would be motivated in a circumstance like this, it’s that team in green,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I don’t know if the streak will be a big factor, but they love playing against us, and vice versa. That’s what happens when you meet a team consecutively in the playoffs.
“There’s a history there, and that’s what makes these games special.”
The Heat equaled the second-longest winning streak in NBA history Sunday, pulling away in the fourth quarter to beat the Toronto Raptors 108-91 back where it began on Feb. 3.
Now it’s on to Boston to face the rival Celtics, who ended the last winning streak this long and have won 11 in a row at home.
“I think we’ll be ready for it,” Dwyane Wade said. “We’ve got to get our rest and we’ve got to know we’re going to have a dog fight on our hands.”
James had 22 points and 12 rebounds for his career-best 32nd double-double of the season, Wade had 24 points and nine assists, and Allen scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for the defending NBA champions.
“It’s a special ride right now that we’re on,” James said. “The best thing about it is we’re doing it together.”
Chris Bosh finished with 18 points as the Heat matched the 22 consecutive wins recorded by the 2007-08 Houston Rockets. The NBA’s longest streak is 33 games, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
“I’d kind of like to see the streak go a little bit, because it’s so unique,” current Rockets coach and former Celtics star Kevin McHale said.
Count on that being the dissenting opinion in Boston.
The teams have become regular postseason opponents, Miami knocking Boston out in both years since James and Bosh signed with the Heat in 2010. It took James’ epic performance to help the Heat do it last year, when the Celtics had a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
So if you’re looking for someone to marvel at the Heat’s accomplishment, try somewhere else.
“I really don’t even care. I hope they lose every game the rest of the season. I just worry about what this team does,” Celtics star Paul Pierce was quoted as saying last week in a story on ESPN.com.
The Heat have faced the Celtics twice so far this season. They blew out Boston 120-107 in Miami on opening night, then lost 100-98 in double-overtime on the road on Jan. 27, the day Boston learned that Rajon Rondo needed knee surgery.
“They played better than us for a large part of that game,” Spoelstra said.
Winners of two straight, the Celtics may be without veteran forward Kevin Garnett on Monday. The 15-time All-Star sat out Saturday’s victory over Charlotte with a strained left thigh and is day-to-day.
He and Pierce, along with the departed Allen, were on the Boston team that ended Houston’s 2008 run en route to capturing that year’s NBA championship.