TORONTO -- A few days ago, Paul Pierce said he wanted not only for the Heat’s winning streak to end, but for Miami to lose every game for the rest of the season.
The Heat, which won its 22nd game in a row on Sunday, plays the Celtics at TD Garden on Monday. Dwyane Wade expects a hostile crowd. The game represents arguably the most difficult game of the streak because the Heat is 0-5 in Boston in the regular season since 2010.
“It’s always a great atmosphere when we go there, but obviously now they’re going to want to see us lose,” Wade said of Celtics fans. “They’re going to want to see [the Celtics] beat us. We’ve got to step up to the challenge at the beginning of the game. It’s going to be loud.”
The Celtics are without Rajon Rondo, who sustained a season-ending knee injury before the All-Star break, and Kevin Garnett is questionable because of soreness in his hip. On paper, the loss of Rondo and Garnett would seemingly give the Heat a definitive advantage, but the Heat knows those things sometimes don’t matter in Boston.
“They still got a championship coach and championship player on the court,” LeBron James said. “We expect a challenge.”
The championship player to which James referred is Pierce, who on Friday said he would like it if the Heat lost every game for the rest of the season. Pierce, of course, has said plenty about the Heat since Wade, James and Chris Bosh united and always has found — in the regular season at least — a way to back up his trash talk at TD Garden.
“We’re going in there and we know they’re going to be ready for us, and we’re going to be ready for them,” James said. “It’s a team that we could possibly see in the playoffs. I’m not worried about our level of focus.”
Allen’s barrage of three-pointers in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 108-91 victory over the Raptors triggered some bad flashbacks for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Allen finished with 20 points and was 4 of 5 from three-point range in the final period. His marksmanship helped Miami outscore Toronto 32-18 to end the game. Back when Allen played for the Celtics, he used to close out the Heat in the same way.
“Those threes by Ray, that’s why we came up with the term for so many years when he was in Boston, ‘Oh, blank,’ ” said Spoelstra, censoring his old nickname for Allen. “Those are what we feared for so many years, because it can turn a game around just like that with three or four threes in a row.”
Allen had back-to-back three-pointers to give the Heat a 97-81 lead with 6:09 to play. For good measure, he knocked down another three-pointer with 5:11 left.
Coming up short
James fell two assists shy of a triple-double when Spoelstra pulled him out of the game with 4:02 to play. The reigning MVP was in distribution mode when he traded places on the court with Mike Miller. James finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
After the game, Spoelstra said he has made a commitment to reducing James’ minutes when possible. He played less than 34 minutes against the Raptors.
James has 35 career triple-doubles, but Sunday marked the 80th time in his career that he finished a game at least two rebounds or two assists shy of a triple-double.
“In the third quarter he felt like he wasn’t playing at the top of his game,” Spoelstra said. “That just shows you his level and his standard of play right now.”
Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly attended the Heat’s win over the Sixers last week and made a point to speak with Spoelstra after the game. Spoelstra is a fan of Kelly and visited with the spread-offense guru when Kelly was coach at the University of Oregon.
It was a brief visit between friends, but Spoelstra said on Sunday that Kelly told him to pick up the tempo during games.
“He told me to play faster,” Spoelstra said.