Just from looking at the box score, one would think that the Miami Heat’s 115-99 win over the Boston Celtics was smooth-sailing. However, the Heat’s 26-point lead at one point was cut to just eight in the third quarter.
The Celtics, who went down 72-46 with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter after a pair of James Johnson free throws, scored 16 unanswered points over the next four minutes. After a Marcus Morris mid-range jump shot with 2:35 remaining in the quarter, the Heat’s lead shriveled to just eight.
This was a movie Miami Heat fans had seen before.
Back in 2016, the Heat held a 26-point lead against the Celtics in Boston. Then, the Celtics came storming back in the third quarter, holding the Heat to just five points in the quarter, and eventually went on to win 98-88.
Now in 2019, the Heat, who have just five active players from the 2016 team (Udonis Haslem, Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, and Justise Winslow), found themselves in the exact same situation, but on their homecourt this time around.
The Heat have a relatively young roster, but the now 36-year-old Wade is still around for his last season, and he was the driving force in making sure the Heat didn’t blow yet another 26-point lead to the Celtics.
Wade entered in the third quarter with 5:17 remaining, with the Heat up 72-54. Before even attempting a shot, the Celtics had already cut the lead down to 10.
The Celtics were threatening to cut into the lead significantly more, but Wade’s experience took the charge and led the way for the Heat to regain control of the game.
By the time the 6:42 mark hit in the fourth quarter, Wade had scored 12 points during the stretch and the Heat’s lead was back up to 16. The Heat had full control, and Wade was the direct solution in setting the pace. After the game, Wade spoke with TNT’s Kristen Ledlow about the situation.
“Well, first of all, that team is so good. They weren’t making shots at a point in time and we were making shots, so we had a comfortable lead,” Wade said. “But you know they’re going to make a run. So once I got in and the second unit got on, it was just about slowing the pace down, not turning the ball over and let them get out on transition, and I got a couple shots to fall.
Earlier the season, the Heat had been unable to hold onto large leads, including losing hold of a 17-point lead against the Toronto Raptors, and an 11-point lead against the Indiana Pacers, and not coming out victorious.
However, relying upon Wade this time around, the Heat were able to hold on. Wade led the team in scoring with 19 points on 8-12 shooting, including three 3-pointers, and Josh Richardson added 18 points and six assists, also helping the Heat keep pace.
The spark Wade gave was able to get the Heat back into the win column after dropping their previous two games. Now, sitting at 20-20 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, the Heat will set their sights on a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.