Boston Celtics Drop Crucial Game to Miami Heat


Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics fell in disappointing fashion to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at TD Garden, 93-86. Despite Isaiah Thomas‘ long-awaited return to the lineup, it was his ex-teammate Goran Dragic who shined for the Heat with a 22-point performance.

Boston entered the night with a prime opportunity to gain a tie with Miami for the 7th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead the Celtics remain in the 8th and final playoff spot. They hold a narrow half-game lead on the Indiana Pacers.

Miami did not seem to be hindered by the absence of Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside. They came out firing and built up a 57-40 halftime advantage. Luol Deng scored 15 points for the Heat and Udonis Haslem added 12 points and 12 rebounds. They would extend their lead to 82-62 over the Celtics as the game shifted to the fourth quarter.

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The Celtics shot the ball poorly in the first half and the ball movement was suspect at best. They finished with just 16 total assists as a team and shot a lackluster 5-of-19 from deep.

Sparked by the fierce play of Jae Crowder and Phil Pressey, the Celtics went on a 19-7 run to begin the fourth. They cut Miami’s lead to 89-83 with 2 minutes to play, but that’s as close as they would get in the game. Crowder scored 16 points of the bench. Pressey added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Marcus Smart recorded a game-high 4 steals.

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Thomas, Boston’s leading-scorer, returned to action after missing 8 games with a back injury. He was a non-factor and scored just 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes of action. Coach Brad Stevens refrained from playing Thomas down the stretch because he was clearly not up to par.

Tyler Zeller was effective in the 19 minutes he did play. Boston’s big man scored 10 points and yanked down 8 rebounds. Ex-Celtic and now Miami forward Henry Walker nailed 4 triples in the game.

The Celtics are off on Thursday and will next be in action on Friday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.