The Miami Heat start the first game of their playoff series against the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon at TD Garden and there is no doubt that it's going to be physical as both teams have been heated rivals in the postseason. Heat star Bam Adebayo gave his “dogfight” expectations of the series beforehand which led to the thoughts of head coach Erik Spoelstra in how he believes the games are going to go.

After Miami beat the Chicago Bulls in the play-in tournament, Adebayo gave his initial thoughts for the type of matchups the two bitter rivals will have. Besides mentioning it will be a “dogfight,” he admitted that “it's not gonna be pretty basketball.”

“It's going to be a dogfight, it's gonna be a battle, it's going to be in the end in mud, it's not gonna be pretty basketball,” Adebayo said. ” And that's usually how it's been when we see that team. Usually how it is ,always competitive. Everybody always plays their best basketball in that series.”

Spoelstra gives his thoughts on Heat-Celtics matchup after Adebayo

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) dribbles the basketball against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) in the fourth quarter during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Heat have been known for bringing games in the mud and making it a physical battle where the toughest team comes out of it alive. They live and die by that style of play which has made them prevail over the Celtics multiple times in the playoffs as they are meeting for the fourth time in the last five years.

However, Spoelstra said to ClutchPoints before Sunday afternoon's contest that Miami has “to be open to how all of the gams play out.”

“I think we have to be open to how all of the games play out, it's a privilege to have these kinds of competitive series, we obviously have history with them,” Spoelstra said. “But all of that is really in the past, it really just creates an enviornment of competition, that's the way I look at it. Both organizations really respect each other, both have been here in the playoffs for several years and have met for a reason. There's a lot of things that have been done right by both organizations and you happen to meet, that's a good thing.”

Spoelstra praises Joe Mazzulla

Besides the history the two teams have as Spoelstra mentioned, it will be the second time the Heat will face Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla. In his second season with the team, he has taken the team to new heights leading to an excellent regular season with some statistics stating they could be one of the greatest teams ever as Spoelstra compliments Mazzulla and Boston.

“He's a very good coach, they've had a very productive season, they've improved all across the board, you have to respect what they've done, record is what their record was and their point differential and all the records they were breaking. You have to respect that, but you also can't be fearful,” Spoelstra said. “You have to get into the competition, the way we view it is, no matter who you are going to play, it's going to be tough in the playoffs. That's the first bout, wrap your head around that and embrace the joy of competing against an opponent that is going to present a lot of different challenges, We've been through a lot this season, but we're lookin forward to start this series.”

Mazzulla points out Jaime Jaquez Jr. in matchup for Heat

While people might think this could be a quick series, Mazzulla is locked in against Miami and said to ClutchPoints that Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. is one to watch out for as he fills in for the injured Jimmy Butler. The Heat star will be out for multiple weeks with an MCL sprain.

“[Jaime Jaquez Jr.] has an innate ability to affect the game in different ways,” Mazzulla said. “Whether it’s in transition, rebounding, hustle plays… He’ll definitely be a focal point on what they try to do.”

Miami are looking to repeat history going back to the NBA Finals, but have to get past the No. 1 seeded Celtics before they can think of championship aspirations.