Thankfully, we didn't see the same meltdown for the second consecutive night.
For much of the fourth quarter, it looked like Miami was headed for a monumental collapse 24 hours after the Milwaukee Bucks stormed back from a 16-point deficit to beat the Heat at the buzzer. The Heat had a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and Miami scored just four points in the first six minutes of the quarter. With two minutes left, the Celtics trimmed the deficit to six.
Miami didn't respond so much as escape, doing just enough to force the Celtics into a fouling mode late in the game. Boston got within five points with 13.8 seconds left, but never closer than that. The Heat won the game, 93-86, to move two games ahead of Boston for the seventh seed and two games behind Milwaukee for the sixth seed.
Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen all sat out Wednesday night's game, and Miami deserves credit for playing good basketball for three quarters. The Heat built a 22-point lead, and it wasn't by accident. Goran Dragic found seams in the lane to drive to the basket, Henry Walker made four 3s and Udonis Haslem had a double-double of 12 points and 12 boards.
The Heat passed the ball around the perimeter for much of the shot clock before rifling off a contested jumper in the fourth. In fact, Miami only made three field goals in the entire fourth -- one Michael Beasley jumper after point guard Marcus Smart switched onto him and two semi-transition layups from Dragic and Luol Deng, respectively. Miami could only muster one field goal in the half-court that fourth period. Yes, Wade will help in those situations when he comes back, but these are professional basketball players, right?
Dragic finished with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, five rebounds and seven assists. For the first three quarters, he looked like a player capable of taking on the scoring responsibilities of a No. 1 option when needed. He made two straight corner 3s from opposite sides of the court in the second quarter. At times in the fourth, he found himself crowded by Celtics defenders after driving to the basket and unsure of what to do. Other times, he didn't even touch the ball.
Without Whiteside and Andersen (and Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts), Udonis Haslem started at center. If Haslem thought he was back in 2008-09 before the Jermaine O'Neal trade, he played like it. The South Florida native played 38 minutes and made several smart rolls and cuts to the basket for layups. Haslem did amazing work down low, and his 12 boards for a team without anyone taller than 6-foot-8 were badly needed.
Deng came and went from the game in a 15-point performance, and Johnson added 12 points off the bench. Towards the end of the first quarter, Tyler Johnson stole the in-bounds pass after a Dragic fastbreak layup. Johnson went right back up for the shot, and Miami scored four points in two seconds. In the third, Johnson rolled his ankle before coming back after a simple taping to finish the game. Johnson is one of my favorite players on this Heat team -- plays hard, plays well and makes smart decisions.
Johnson's injury prompted Erik Spoelstra to go to Shabazz Napier for the first time since March 9. He made a floater when he came back into the game, but didn't do much else. James Ennis also received his first playing time in a while; his last appearance was March 7. Ennis was a +10 in 20 minutes, contributing six points and six boards.
The Heat will close out their road trip Friday night at 7:30 in Atlanta.