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Heat crumble down the stretch, fall to Celtics 93-80

After a very first close half, Miami fell apart in the second half and were unable to pull things back in the final minutes as they lost a huge game at home

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

First Half:

The Heat had more energy to start this one, but both teams struggled to score over the first two minutes. It was Robert Williams who did most of the work scoring the first 4 points of the ball game as Miami went 0-6 from the field until a Jimmy Butler jumper. Both teams had exceptional demesne which kept the score so low. Bam came alive a little bit showing spurts of aggressiveness to get Miami within one. The Celtics would pull ahead again, but when Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo entered the game they caused immediate havoc on defense. Miami stole the ball often from the Celtics, allowing them to keep the lead for moments at a time, or keep things tied. Regardless, this was a much better start. The Heat would take a two-point lead into the second quarter.

Duncan also got it going to give Miami a 7 point lead. It’s nice to see Duncan scoring again especially with Strus recently struggling. Still, the Celtics kept things close. The Heat stopped forcing shots and found the open man well. That on top of their continued defense allowed Miami to stay ahead. Miami’s active hands started to turn into points. Though Jimmy Butler wasn’t his JiMVP self. The Heat reserves really stepped up on both ends to ease the burden. As the half came to a close, Bam stepped up for four key points and grabbed some much-needed rebounds to maintain momentum. That coupled with so PJ Tucker hustle plays kept Miami ahead five headed into the second half.

Second Half

The Celtics pulled things back within one immediately to start the second half. It didn’t take long for them to steal back the lead, forcing Miami to adjust. Miami would get to the line off some aggressive play, getting the majority of their points that way. A lot of those points came from Max Strus, who while not being able to score a three, drove to the rim exceptionally well. Partway through the third, he’d go to the locker room, giving Duncan another chance to put some points on the board. Gabe Vincent was key for the Heat offensively at the end of the third quarter, especially with Jimmy struggling. Miami needed scoring, and it’s honestly concerning that Oladipo and Vincent were the only ones who answered that call. Unfortunately, nobody else did, and the Celtics used that to take an 11-point lead into the fourth. With things falling apart, the Heat needed someone to answer the call and save the postseason run.

Jimmy tried to get it going in the fourth but airballed two shots immediately, while the Celtics found new life extending their lead to 15. It didn’t help that Miami kept passing the ball out of bounds, well that and Jaylen Brown shooting from the logo to extend the lead to 23 on a 24-2 run. Bam hit some tough shots to try and keep Miami in it, but it’s frustrating when you know what he’s capable of offensively and he comes alive at the last possible second. With just over four minutes remaining, Miami cut the lead to 13 but they were too late to capitalize on anything.

This was a winnable game for the Heat, but nobody could get it going. A lot of Heat players look like shells of their regular-season selves out there (Hint: I’m talking about Kyle Lowry). Miami has a chance on Friday to extend this to seven. But it will not be easy, especially if they’re playing like this.