In a repeat of last season, the Miami Heat have earned the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory in the play-in tournament against the Chicago Bulls. This time, however, the Heat won more convincingly. Last season, they had to put up a stellar fourth quarter effort to end up winning by 11, but on Friday, they took care of business early en route to a 112-91 victory. And as fate would have it, the Heat will now be facing the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs — a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

Do the Heat have the Celtics' number? Perhaps. But every year is different, and the Celtics have loaded up immensely after their disappointing showing last season. Nonetheless, Heat fans present at Kaseya Center on Friday night made everyone know that they do not want to duck the smoke — embracing what is sure to be a difficult matchup against Boston in Round 1.

Alas, this chant from Heat fans may not end up for the best. Teams whose fans chanted “We want Boston!” did not exactly fare too well against the Celtics, as pointed out by diehard fan @ownedbytatum0 on Twitter (X).

Again, this does not portend anything. As the old adage goes, the ball is round and anything can happen. But circumstances aren't looking too good for the Heat. It would take a monumental collapse for the Celtics to fall prey yet again to the team that ended their 2022-23 season.

Heat fans might be in for a rude awakening

Heat fans on social media relished the fact that the supporters in attendance during Miami's play-in win over the Bulls did not fear the Celtics, in fact, “wanting” a matchup against them.

““We Want Boston” chants. Oh lawd. Cocky Heat fans are back,” @HeatvsHaters wrote.

But it's important to note that the primary catalyst of the Heat's incredible playoff run last season, Jimmy Butler, is dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out for the entirety of the playoffs. The Celtics matchup was already difficult enough as it is with Butler healthy. Without him, overcoming the team that finished with the best record in the NBA during the season becomes close to impossible.

Accordingly, some fans pointed out that the cockiness of some Heat supporters may just be a tad misplaced.

In addition to missing Jimmy Butler, the Heat were without Terry Rozier in their play-in triumph against the Bulls. Shorthanded as the Heat are, it will take a miracle for them to channel their 2020 and 2023 efforts against the Celtics.

Celtics to even up the tetralogy?

The Heat and Celtics, in their Jimmy Butler-Jayson Tatum era of basketball, have matched up against each other three times in the past. Their first tussle came in the Orlando bubble back in 2020, when they faced each other in the Eastern Conference Finals; Bam Adebayo was playing his best basketball at the time, Tyler Herro was a breakout playoff stud, in his rookie season no less, while they had a plethora of wing defenders (Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala) to bother the Celtics' wings. Miami won that series 4-2.

2021 was a down year for both the Heat and Celtics. But in 2022, they came roaring back, meeting each other yet again in the ECF. The series went to seven games, and the Heat missed a second NBA Finals berth in three years by the slimmest of margins, with Jimmy Butler misfiring on a three that would have given them the lead late in Game 7.

Last year brought an even odder matchup between the two teams. The Heat looked like they were well on their way to the Finals, taking a commanding 3-0 lead that is usually a death sentence for the opposing team. However, the Celtics refused to die, winning the next three games before falling for good thanks in large part to a herculean performance from Caleb Martin.

But in 2024, the Heat will be without two of their top guys. The Celtics are healthy, raring to have another crack at banner number 18, and they brought in Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis to upgrade on Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Malcolm Brogdon.

The Celtics also swept the season series, lending even more credence to the idea that this might be the year that Boston takes care of the Miami problem without much fuss. But the Heat, coached by future Hall of Famer Erik Spoelstra, have earned a ton of respect over the years. So even though they'll be fielding a depleted roster, there's no way they'd simply roll over and hand the Celtics tickets to the second round.