NBA ahead: Boston at Miami on Thursday

BOSTON AT MIAMI: Thursday, 5 p.m. PST. TV: TNT.

If LeBron James is upset at Charles Barkley for whatever he has said now, it's nothing compared to LeBron's feeling for the Celtics, who ended his Cavaliers career ingloriously last spring and started his Miami career the same way in this season's opener in Boston.

Since that game, the Heat has, indeed, looked special with its No. 1 defense.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have looked OK, losing to Cleveland, squeaking out home wins over the Knicks, Bucks, and Bulls.

The question for Boston is what it does when opponents take away sensational Rajon Rondo, averaging 16.8 assists.

The question for the smallish Heat, with Chris Bosh and Joe Anthony starting the weekend averaging 9.5 rebounds — combined — is how it stands up to the big, physical Celtics, who belted Miami around in the opener.

—Mark Heisler

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