In a highly anticipated matchup, the Miami Heat square off against the Boston Celtics in game 4 of the 2nd round of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. Tip-off is set for Monday, 7:00 pm ET in  Boston.
Miami handled the Boston Celtics fairly easily in South Beach but the Celtics are one game away from evening up this series after an inspired effort by point guard Rajon Rondo, who dislocated his elbow in the 3rd quarter of game 4.

In their last matchup, Boston defeated Miami, 97-81. Boston got out to a big early lead only to have the Miami Heat comeback and take the lead from the Celtics. The Celtics defense played strong and they outscored Miami 28-15 in the 3rd quarter and that was the difference in the ball game. Point guard Rajon Rondo got tangled up with Dwayne Wade and was tossed to the floor and dislocated his elbow. It was a gruesome looking fall in where Rondo's arm was hyper-extended. (tough to watch on television). Rondo shocked everyone and returned, inspiring the Celtics and their fans by returning. Not only did he return, he played one handed and brought the crowd to their feet by tossing down two baskets and playing virtually with one arm. Rondo isn't Bill Russell but this is the type of moment that will live in basketball history for years to come.

Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with a brilliant 28 point, 18 rebound performance. Paul Pierce had 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Heat were led by Dwayne Wade with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists and had an inspiring performance by Mario Chalmers with 17 points.

Game 4 should put up some big television ratings and the NBA betting public is leaning towards the Heat due to Rondo's injury. Currently, this game is a PK. Rajon Rondo will be a game time decision and coach Doc Rivers was hopeful and Rondo expects to play.

I don't see anyway that Rondo doesn't play this game. He played after a brutal injury. With the direction of the series on the line, there's no way that this fierce competitor will sit out. If by any reason Rondo is unable to play, Delonte West will take his place and although he's capable, he's a little banged up himself.

Win at all costs

I'm not trying to dramatize the moment but the second that Rondo stepped foot back on the court it said something about his competitive spirit, toughness, and sent a message to his team. Look for this to leave a lasting impression on players especially those like Kevin Garnett. Garnett doesn't really need inspiration. He played a great game but when it comes to team play, Kevin Garnett is respected more by his teammates more than any other player. One player once said he was hated as an opponent but when Garnett was his teammate, he was the best "team player" that he'd ever seen. The Celtics all play off of emotion. I'm not expecting Rondo to put up huge numbers or be a major force but I'm expecting his presence on the court to be an influence in this game. Plain and simple, he'll do anything to win.

Lebron James and the Miami HeatSilenced

The NBA's all time leading 3 point shooter and superstar Ray Allen has been very quiet in his last games in this series. Allen has averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the two games. He's shot a dismal 6 for 18 from the field. I know that Paul Pierce will bring his "A Game" and KG will make an impression on this game (regardless of his numbers) but this is a game where Ray Allen needs to make a definite impact. Rondo isn't 100% and Allen usually plays big in crucial moments of a game. He doesn't necessarily matchup well against Lebron and Wade but the Celtics big men will need to set some firm picks so this spot up shooter can show why he's one of the all time greats. This is a big moment. Expect Ray Allen to play well.

"Le"mom"

We won't get into the specifics but there's rumors that there's personal issues between Lebron James and Celtics point guard Delonte West. James didn't want to play with him and we know why. West has played well in this series in a backup role  Maybe there's a little extra incentive playing against Lebron James and in 3 games, averaging over 21 minutes per game, West is averaging 10.3 points per game and is 6 for 11 from 3 point range. Delonte West could play a major role in this game with Rajon Rondo being injured.

Bench Brothers

Miami got a real boost off of the bench in game 3 from Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony. Chalmers usually gets his minutes but the Heat are very thin on the bench. Chalmers only averaged 2.5 points in the first two games and came up big with 17 points in game 3. I look for him to be motivated. He was a tough cover for Boston's defense in game 3 and look for Chalmers to feed off his previous performance. (enough to make a slight impact).

The Heat didn't expect much from Joel Anthony but he came up with some big baskets in game 3. Anthony has played like a different player in his last two games. In his last game, he had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He's averaged 9 points and 8 rebounds in his last 2 games. If the Heat could get anything close to that, they would be thrilled. 

It's Lebron's turn

Dwayne Wade has been the leader for the Heat in this series thus far. The Heat usually have either Wade or James in the game at all times (except for garbage time). They usually rotate on who takes the lead. Dwayne Wade has had a spectacular series, averaging 29.6 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Look for Lebron's ego to get in the way. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Players like Michael Jordan had a big ego and it worked for him. Lebron will look for the spotlight and will play a primary role in game 4. Look for James to take the ball to the inside often. The Celtics will need to get the most out of the two O'Neals as they can. King James will look to go for the kill in game four, wanting to take a 3-1 lead back to South Beach.

Outcome of the Game

The Celtics should really be affected by Rajon Rondo's injury but they're in a good spot. They're coming off of a big win and they'll be playing in front of their encouraging, screaming fans. I think the atmosphere and urgency to win this game will get them through game 4. Statfox is going with Miami but the fact that the NBA live lines have gone in Miami's direction due to Rondo's injury is an added bonus. Taken Boston to cover.

Pick: Boston - PK