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Heat blow 26 point lead, fall to Celtics 98-88

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Despite the fact that the Heat throttled the Celtics in the first half, they collapsed in the second, blowing a 26 point lead and losing to the Celtics.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the weirdest games I've ever had the pleasure of watching the Heat somehow managed to blow a 26 point lead in the second half and lose their final game of the season. However, it's worth noting that because the Hawks lost tonight and a four way tie ensued, the Heat have managed to get the 3rd seed headed into the playoffs.

The Heat started off strong, but this time on defense forcing a 24 second violation on Boston. One thing noticeable right off the bat was how savage the Heat were on fighting for offensive rebounds, with Deng grabbing two early. Deng was a monster in the opening minutes scoring six points, and making Amir Johnson look silly on defense.

The Celtics were unable to hit shots missing eight of their first 12 shot attempts, and Miami capitalized on this using their transition game to go on a 13-0 run.

There was also a rare Josh McRoberts sighting late in the first quarter, who looked aggressive and solid on his leg. Miami switched up their rotation after taking a 22 point lead, bringing in Gerald Green. In fact as the first quarter closed the only starter on the floor was Goran Dragic who just seemed to be firing on all cylinders.

The Heat entered the second quarter up 28, and looked to build on their big lead. Boston showed signs of life, forcing the Heat to put in some starters and they continued their dominance with Wade immediately doing work scoring seven points, on some beautiful plays.

One thing interesting about Dwyane Wade’s old man game, is how often he uses the bank shot especially when in mid range proximity the hoop.

Joe Johnson continued his dominance from last night putting on an offensive clinic, and dribbling around what seemed like all Celtics defenders. For the Celtics, the only damage being done offensively was through Evan Turner and the Celtics crowd was not happy booing them as the half came to an end.

The Heat came into the second half hot, with Joe Johnson hitting a three right off the bat. However, that didn’t last. The Celtics seemed hungry stealing the ball a couple of times finishing in transition, and scoring in the paint. The Celtics small stretch forced the Heat to take a small timeout and regroup. Miami just seemed out of rhythm, with Boston dominating in transition and chipping the Heat lead down. Additionally, the Heat started to move away from what was working electing to shoot from of the perimeter instead of working in the paint.  Out of nowhere the Celtics destroyed Miami’s lead on a 17-0 run.

For the Heat, turnovers became an issue, a problem that was nonexistent in the first half. It was Joe Johnson who’d stop the bleeding for Miami, but the collapse was significant with the Celtics cutting down the lead to just single digits.

It almost seemed as if one of the Celtics’ rims were defective the way Miami began to mirror the Celtics’ play in the first half. This was easily one of the worst Heat quarters ever, with Miami scoring a franchise low 5 points.

The atmosphere seemed crazy in the Garden, and team’s emotions were high as a fight almost seemed to break out underneath the Heat rim right before the fourth quarter.

Miami’s woes continued into the fourth quarter, with an offensive foul on Whiteside. The Heat just looked lost, on both offense and defense, almost as if everybody seemed to forget their assignments. As Miami continued their monumental collapse the Celtics took the lead, a 31-4 run.

Feeling the frustration, the Heat began to battle back with Hassan Whiteside swatting a Marcus Smart layup into the stands. It was Dwyane Wade who started a comeback for the Heat, and Dragic who continued it. Though the move to small ball eliminated Miami’s rim protection.

Whiteside would eventually come back into the game, but too little too late. The Heat never got back to shooting in the paint, and were unable to rally back in the final minutes.

The Heat had been one of the best second half teams in the NBA and so this collapse was like watching Bizarro-verse basketball.

For a frustrated Heat Nation, it is worth remembering that the Heat won a hard fought battle just yesterday against the Pistons and were obviously tired. Though that doesn’t excuse one of the worst collapses I’ve seen in professional basketball it doesn’t lend me to worry too much about this team for the playoffs.