While the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat has existed for well over 4 decades, it has blossomed into perhaps the best rivalry in the entire Eastern Conference in recent years. Not only are each of these teams extremely talented, have both made it to the NBA Finals in the past two seasons, are two large market teams with passionate fanbases, seem to have a genuine dislike toward each other, and each team also has larger than life personalities that make this rivalry feel even more grand than it already is, but they have gone to battle in the playoffs for a majority of the past few seasons. In other words, this rivalry has all of the ingredients to be an all-time classic — and is already well on its way there.
In this article, we’ll discuss the head to head history of the Celtics and Heat, note a bit about this rivalry’s background, break down their iconic 2023 Eastern Conference Finals series, and predict how they’ll match up in 2023-24.
Celtics vs Heat Head to Head History
The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have faced each other a total of 171 times. Boston holds the all-time edge in the series, 98-73. Yet, when it comes to playoff matchups, Miami holds a 20-17 edge.
The first matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat came on November 15, 1988, in a game that the Celtics win 84-65. Most recently, these teams faced off on October 27, 2023, in a game that the Celtics won 119-111.
The longest active regular season winning streak in this series is held by the Celtics, who have won 8 straight games against the Heat two times; the most recent of which came between November 30, 2015, and October 28, 2017.
Here a game log of Miami Heat and Boston Celtics from 2023-24 Season to 2014-15 Season
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Game Log
|Game||Date||Home Team||Away Team||Result||Score||Overtime (OT)||Streak||Head-to-Head MIA-BOS|
|134||Oct 27, 2023||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||111 – 119||Celtics won 1||53 – 81|
|133||Jan 24, 2023||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||98 – 95||Heat won 2||53 – 80|
|132||Dec 2, 2022||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||120 – 116||OT||Heat won 1||52 – 80|
|131||Nov 30, 2022||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||121 – 134||Celtics won 2||51 – 80|
|130||Oct 21, 2022||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||104 – 111||Celtics won 1||51 – 79|
|129||Mar 30, 2022||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||106 – 98||Heat won 1||51 – 78|
|128||Jan 31, 2022||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||92 – 122||Celtics won 2||50 – 78|
|127||Nov 4, 2021||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||78 – 95||Celtics won 1||50 – 77|
|126||May 11, 2021||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||129 – 121||Heat won 2||50 – 76|
|125||May 9, 2021||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||130 – 124||Heat won 1||49 – 76|
|124||Jan 6, 2021||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||105 – 107||Celtics won 1||48 – 76|
|123||Aug 4, 2020||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||112 – 106||Heat won 1||48 – 75|
|122||Jan 28, 2020||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||101 – 109||Celtics won 5||47 – 75|
|121||Dec 4, 2019||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||93 – 112||Celtics won 4||47 – 74|
|120||Apr 3, 2019||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||102 – 112||Celtics won 3||47 – 73|
|119||Apr 1, 2019||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||105 – 110||Celtics won 2||47 – 72|
|118||Jan 21, 2019||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||99 – 107||Celtics won 1||47 – 71|
|117||Jan 10, 2019||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||115 – 99||Heat won 3||47 – 70|
|116||Dec 20, 2017||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||90 – 89||Heat won 2||46 – 70|
|115||Nov 22, 2017||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||104 – 98||Heat won 1||45 – 70|
|114||Oct 28, 2017||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||90 – 96||Celtics won 8||44 – 70|
|113||Mar 26, 2017||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||108 – 112||Celtics won 7||44 – 69|
|112||Dec 30, 2016||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||114 – 117||Celtics won 6||44 – 68|
|111||Dec 18, 2016||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||95 – 105||Celtics won 5||44 – 67|
|110||Nov 28, 2016||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||104 – 112||Celtics won 4||44 – 66|
|109||Apr 13, 2016||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||88 – 98||Celtics won 3||44 – 65|
|108||Feb 27, 2016||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||89 – 101||Celtics won 2||44 – 64|
|107||Nov 30, 2015||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||95 – 105||Celtics won 1||44 – 63|
|106||Mar 25, 2015||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||93 – 86||Heat won 1||44 – 62|
|105||Mar 9, 2015||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||L||90 – 100||Celtics won 1||43 – 62|
|104||Feb 1, 2015||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||83 – 75||Heat won 2||43 – 61|
|103||Dec 21, 2014||Miami Heat||Boston Celtics||W||100 – 84||Heat won 1||42 – 61|
Celtics vs Heat Rivalry Background
While these teams have been circling each other in the Eastern Conference since the late 80s, their first playoff matchup wasn’t until 2010, when the Celtics beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference First Round in five games. This series started a three-year stretch where these two teams played each other in the playoffs.
But the difference maker for the Heat came after that loss to 2010 playoff loss, once they signed LeBron James and Chris Both. Once these two joined Dwyane Wade on Miami, the Heat gained the upper hand in this rivalry; proven by them beating the Celtics in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals in 5 games, then again in an extremely evenly matched, 7-game 2012 Eastern Conference Finals series. The Heat also went on to win the NBA Championship in this 2012 season.
It wasn’t until 2020 where these two teams — each with completely different rosters from those playoff battles one decade before — met in the playoffs once again. The Heat and Celtics squared off in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, and the Heat won the series in 6 games (although they ultimately lost in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers).
These two teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals two years later, in 2022. In what was an intensely physical, hard-nosed series from start to finish, the Celtics ultimately emerged and won the series in 7 games — advancing to the 2022 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Golden State Warriors.
Therefore, this rivalry was already operating at full stream when these two juggernauts collided once more in the 2023 playoffs.
2023 Eastern Conference Finals
After the Boston Celtics finished the 2022-23 regular season with a 57-25 record, they entered the 2023 NBA Playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first round then bested the 76ers in 7 games to earn a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Miami Heat struggled during the 2022-23 regular season, producing a 44-38 record and having to make the playoffs via the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. Once they did so, however, they pulled off a massive upset against the #1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks, then beat the New York Knicks in a 6-game Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup — which meant they were facing the Celtics once again.
Game 1 of this 2023 Eastern Conference Finals series took place in Boston. Due to a sensational, 35 point performance from the Heat’s Jimmy Butler (along with 20 points from Bam Adebayo), the Heat entered Boston and emerged with a 123-116 Game 1 win.
Game 2 was also in Boston — and despite the Celtics leading for most of the game, a fourth quarter rally from Miami (led once again by Jimmy Butler), allowed the Heat to win Game 2 111-105, and head back home with a 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 in Miami was all Heat. An off night from both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, combined with an otherworldly performance from the Heat’s Gabe Vincent, allowed the Heat to cruise to a 128-102 win, putting them up 3-0 in the series.
Most people believed the Celtics were finished at that point. Yet, Boston rallied on the road in Game 4, and utilized a 33 point performance from Jayson Tatum to defeat the Heat 116-99 in Miami; allowing them to return to Boston for Game 5.
Game 5 was Boston’s from start to finish. After jumping out to a 35-20 first quarter lead, the Celtics never really had to fight off the Heat from that point on, and won a relatively non-competitive Game 5 by a score of 110-97.
Which brought the series back to Miami for Game 6 — a game that turned out to be the most exciting in the series by far. After a back and forth, rollercoaster affair, Boston’s Derrick White made a buzzer-beating putback as time expired to give the Celtics a 104-103 victory — tying the series 3-3 and putting Boston on the brink of a legendary comeback.
Then came Game 7 in Boston. Unfortunately for the Celtics faithful, their team never got going, and a combined 54 point performance from Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin allowed the Heat to crush the Celtics 103-84, ending Boston’s season and letting Miami advance to the NBA Finals (where they lost to the Denver Nuggets.)
Celtics vs Heat 2023-24 Matchup Analysis
The Celtics and Heat play 3 times during the 2023-24 regular season: on October 27 (which the Celtics won 119-111), on January 25 (in Miami), and on February 11 (in Miami).
Aside from the departure of Marcus Smart and addition of Kristaps Porzingis for the Celtics, Boston and Miami have very similar rosters from last season. Yet, Smart was Boston’s best defender, and often guarded Jimmy Butler. While this could be a big blow for Boston, they seemed to do just fine during their first matchup this season, as Butler only scored 14 points in the loss.
Yet, that was only one game — and Butler is known for his pristine playoff performances. All of basketball fans should hope that these teams meet again in the 2024 playoffs.
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