No one has been able to slow down the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference. They are the clear-cut favorite to make it to the NBA Finals in that conference, but their first-round opponent, the Miami Heat, have been known to play spoiler before. Last season, the Heat became one of only six 8-seeded teams to win in the first round and only the second 8-seed ever to advance all the way to the NBA Finals. In this article, we will explain what you need to know about their first-round matchup.

Where is Celtics vs. Heat?

The Celtics finished with the best record in the NBA. Therefore, they will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. That means Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 in Round 1 will be at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, while Games 3, 4, and 6 will be hosted by the Heat at Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida.

How to watch Celtics vs. Heat

Game 1: Heat @ Celtics: Sunday, April 21 at 1 p.m. ET – ABC

Game 2: Heat @ Celtics: Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. ET – TNT

Game 3: Celtics @ Heat: Saturday, April 27 at 6 p.m. ET – TNT

Game 4: Celtics @ Heat: Monday, April 29

Game 5: Heat @ Celtics: Wednesday, May 1

Game 6: Celtics @ Heat: Friday, May 3

Game 7: Heat @ Celtics: Sunday, May 5

Celtics storylines

Celtics Jayson Tatum making a play against the Heat
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason, the Celtics moved on from notable players such as Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and Malcolm Brogdon. They replaced them with stars, including Jrue Holiday and Kristap Porzingis. The risky moves paid off and turned Boston into a historically good team in the regular season. Of course, the winning ways they had in the regular season will now need to continue into the postseason.

The Celtics have been dominant all season on both ends of the floor. They finished first in offensive rating by a wide margin and second in defensive rating. Porzingis has replaced the rim protection the team lost when they traded Williams, but he brings much more on the offensive end.

Porzingis is a true basketball unicorn. At 7-foot-2, he can stretch the floor and effectively knock down three-point shots, but he has also been more willing to work the ball inside and attack opposing defenses in the paint. Holiday has also fit seamlessly onto Boston's roster. While Smart became the second point guard to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year Award a couple of seasons ago with the Celtics, Holiday has been widely regarded as the best guard defender in the NBA.

Of course, though, it is Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who truly make the team elite. The forward pair form arguably the best duo in the NBA. Tatum scored 26.9 points per game this season, while Brown put up 23 points per game.

Heat storylines

Bam Adebayo driving on Sam Hauser in a Heat vs. Celtics matchup
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat might seem like an easy target for the Celtics, but that is far from the case. While an 8-seed winning in the first round is incredibly rare, the Heat were one of the few teams to ever accomplish that feat just last year. Miami has a great culture, and they always turn things up a notch in the postseason.

Miami even beat Boston last year in the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, their biggest playoff riser and team superstar, Jimmy Butler, is at risk of missing this entire series, and that significantly hurts Miami's outlook. Butler sprained his MCL in the NBA Play-in Tournament and is now expected to miss multiple weeks, meaning his status is in doubt for this series.

Unfortunately, Butler isn't the only Heat player who is hurt, either. Terry Rozier is dealing with a neck injury and will miss the beginning of the series.

Luckily, Tyler Herro will be playing in the playoffs this year. The guard missed almost the entire postseason last year, and the team will be relying on him to carry the burden with Butler out. The Heat will need a number of other players to step up if they are to beat the juggernaut that is the Celtics, though.

Don't be surprised if some unheralded Heat players do just that. Undrafted, underappreciated, and underrated players always seem to thrive in Miami. Just last year, Caleb Martin went from a little-known player to one of the best players in the postseason. Undrafted players like Haywood Highsmith and Duncan Robinson even have had their moments in the postseason.

Everyone will have to step up this year with Butler out, and beating the Celtics looks like an impossible feat. If there is anyone who can do it, though, it is the Miami Heat. The dominant play-in win without Butler and Rozier over the Chicago Bulls once again showed how resilient this team can be.