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Pivotal games in Boston are make-or-break moment for Heat

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The Heat can salvage an otherwise dreary season with two road wins.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves last night, the Miami Heat found themselves a game behind the fourth-place New York Knicks and a game ahead of the seventh-place Boston Celtics.

With just five games left in the season, Miami’s next two games at the Celtics represent a crucial make-or-break moment for this team. Win both and the Heat have a good chance at securing the fourth or fifth seed — crucial for avoiding top three seeds in the East, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Milwaukee. Lose both, and a play-in tournament becomes all but assured.

This 2020-21 season has had its many frustrations. Yes, the Heat have suffered from Jimmy Butler’s 10-game absence due to health and safety protocols. Victor Oladipo has only played four games in a Heat uniform. But Miami has also blown leads and embarrassed themselves against sub-par opponents — like losses to the Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, the injury-depleted Los Angeles Clippers and the early-season Washington Wizards.

If the Heat had simply won those games, they’d be sitting comfortably in the fourth seed. And fortunately for them, they can still grab the fourth seed. Miami’s opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics, have also toiled through an uneven season. In just the last three weeks, Boston fell to the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls — two teams behind them in the standings — in 20-point drubbings and lost to an Oklahoma City Thunder team that has won just one game since April 1.

That’s what makes these next two games in Boston so critical. Both the Heat and Celtics have disappointed from their expectations going into the season, but they both have the opportunity to salvage the year in the final week of the regular season.

Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro returned last night and look healthy. Although Oladipo may not play, Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon have proven to be nice mid-season additions. Miami has to do what they did in last season’s playoff run — make a stand against the Celtics as the tougher, more composed team in the clutch.