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Irving seals Celtics win in crunch time against Heat, 96-90

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Kyrie Irving ends all hope of a late Heat comeback with clutch play for Boston.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat’s flaws were too much to overcome against the Boston Celtics despite a late rally that Kyrie Irving silenced in the closing moments of the game for the 96-90 win.

Once again the Heat’s offense sputtering during critical stretches of the second half, while Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington and James Johnson among others struggling mightily from long rage. The team collectively shot 7-31, good for 22.6%, in 3-pointers and committed 19 turnovers. They were also burned for a 21-9 margin in second chance points and had 10 less free throw attempts than Boston.

Whether it’s ankle issues or another factor, Dion Waiters hasn’t been himself and tonight was another clear example of that with another disjointed effort. He played just 24 minutes, none during crunch time, and scored just five points on 2-8 shooting. Tyler Johnson wasn’t much better, managing just two points (1-6 FG shooting) in 23 minutes.

Without Hassan Whiteside (and Rodney McGruder) and facing a more talented team, the Heat needed a breakout offensive game from their shooting guards. Instead it was Goran Dragic (21 points), Josh Richardson (16 points), James Johnson (16 points) and Kelly Olynyk (14 points) as the only Heat players reaching double figures in scoring. Miami also were their own worst enemy with several unforced turnovers and missed shots right at the rim that could have made the difference in such a tight game.

Despite everything, the Heat had their chances to seize control of the game and grab another hard-fought victory during their homestand. Instead, it was Kyrie Irving who scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a dagger three in crunch time, to seal the Celtics victory. If there’s any concern that the Heat don’t have a singular All-Star talent to take control of the offense and execute winning plays late in the game, there was Irving to show how a star can win games for their team.

Miami will next host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday at 7:30pm.