MIAMI, FLORIDA — The streak is over. The Miami Heat downed the Celtics 104 to 98, ending the fourth longest winning streak in Boston franchise history. Like in games past, Boston was forced to overcome another significant deficit, but tonight, they were unable to dig themselves out.
On a night where the Celtics couldn’t get anything going, there wasn’t any particular individual standout on offense. Kyrie Irving led the team with 21 points and 4 assists on 10-of-21 shooting. Jayson Tatum chipped in 18 points, and Al Horford added 7 points and 9 boards.
Boston was limited to 42 percent shooting on the night, and lost the rebounding battle 47 to 37. The Celtics simply weren’t able to execute down the stretch, and missed three critical free throws in clutch time.
From an efficiency standpoint, the Heat came into the game as the worst second-half team in the league so far this season. Before tonight, the Heat have been outscored by 59 points in third quarters, which is the worst mark in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics entered the night ranked 2nd in second half average margin.
It didn’t make a difference, and the Heat were able to hold off a late charge.
The Celtics were able to cut the lead to two late in the fourth quarter, but ran out of the resilient magic that they’ve relied upon during their improbable run.
Coming off three losses in their previous four games, the Heat won on the defensive side tonight. They swarmed the Celtics along the perimeter, and won the battle in the paint 52 to 40.
Goran Dragic was outstanding, and finished with 27 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists. In atypical fashion, the Celtics allowed the veteran point guard to comfortably drive with his dominant hand, and he was able to get to the basket at will. Dragic, a career 36 percent three-point shooter went 2-for-4 from behind the arc on the night.
Hassan Whiteside entered the night averaging 16.2 PPG and 13.5 RPG. He missed the October 28 contest between these teams, and he finished with only 8 points and 10 boards on 4-of-5 shooting. But Whiteside made his defensive presence known, and kept the Celtics from getting any easy looks at the rim.
Ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds in 20 game minutes. Olynyk posted a semi-revengeful 14 points and 9 boards in 24 points in the matchup one month ago.
The Celtics streak of 8 consecutive wins against the Heat is over. It was a run that included five straight wins at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Tonight also represented another bizarre scheduling oddities with the new drawn out NBA schedules. Miami is the second team that the C’s have visited twice on the road during this winning streak. It isn’t yet Thanksgiving and Boston is already finished with their road series in Miami, Atlanta, and Cleveland. Last season, they didn’t close out an Eastern Conference road series until December 18.
Nearing the quarter poll of the season, the Celtics remain four games ahead of second place Toronto, who lost in New York tonight. The Celtics will look to bounce back at home on Friday night against the Orlando Magic.