The Boston Celtics are heading toward oblivion and their next opponent could speed up their journey. The skidding Celtics will attempt to avoid a seventh consecutive loss when they host the Miami Heat and ex-teammate Ray Allen in a Sunday matinee. Boston saw its losing streak reach six games in stunning fashion, blowing a 27-point lead in Atlanta and falling in double overtime to the Hawks on Friday night. The skid, coming on the heels of a six-game winning streak, dropped the Celtics three games below .500.
Miami, which owns the best record in the Eastern Conference, has ripped off four straight victories after steamrolling the Detroit Pistons 110-88 on Friday night. The Heat have been rather ordinary away from home with a 10-9 record, but they won their last two road games in impressive fashion by knocking off Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers on back-to-back nights. Boston is the first stop of a four-game road trip for Miami, which will have played 10 of 12 games away from home when it's over.
TV: 1 p.m., ABC
ABOUT THE HEAT (28-12): Allen played a pivotal role in Boston's run to a championship in 2008, but the sight of him in a Miami uniform has to be galling for Celtics fans - particularly after he turned down a more lucrative offer from Boston to sign with the Heat in the offseason. Content to be a role player with Miami, Allen is averaging 11.4 points and shooting 44.6 percent from behind the arc. He told the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida he doesn't know what kind of greeting to expect. "I have great memories. ... I'll always cherish those moments," Allen said. "Regardless of how they respond to me, it won't change how I feel."
ABOUT THE CELTICS (20-23): Guard Avery Bradley may feel a little extra pressure due to Allen's return. He replaced Allen in Boston's starting lineup last season, leading to speculation that was among the reasons Allen's opted to take his shooting talents to South Beach. Known as one of the league's better on-ball defenders, Bradley had his second-highest output with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting against Atlanta. It was only the third time in 12 games that Bradley scored in double figures. He missed the first two months while recuperating from two shoulder surgeries.
1. Miami beat the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season, winning Game 6 in Boston behind 45 points from LeBron James.
2. Celtics PG Rajon Rondo is coming off back-to-back triple-doubles for Boston, which last lost six straight from April 4-15, 2007.
3. Allen, the NBA's career 3-point leader, scored 19 points in a 120-107 season-opening win over Boston.
Heat 97, Celtics 89