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Celtics comeback not enough to extinguish Heat, Boston loses 130-124

Evan Fournier scored 30 points, but the Celtics couldn’t keep pace with Miami.

NBA: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Another large first half deficit was too much to overcome for Boston. The Celtics fell to the Heat 130-124 in a Mother’s Day matinee.

Three-point shooting was the barometer for success. Miami connected on 16-35 of their threes and consistently pushed the pace, catching Boston consistently off balance on defense.

For the Celtics, Evan Fournier led the team with 30 points. Fournier hit 7-of-11 of his threes and added eight assists as well in his biggest game in green.

The Celtics hosted Miami on Tommy Day, celebrating the life of Tommy Heinsohn. Heinsohn is the only Celtic to be involved in all 17 titles in some capacity (player, coach, broadcaster). Marcus Smart, the physical embodiment of a “Tommy point” spoke on Heinsohn’s impact to him pregame.

Miami jumped out to an early six-point lead on the strength of their role players. Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn accounted for 15 of the team’s 17 points in the first six minutes of game time.

Robinson recently became the fastest player in NBA history to hit 500 3-pointers. It took the young sniper just 152 games to hit 500 career threes.

The Heat was able to get easy looks by running in transition after Boston gave away the ball multiple times. The turnover monster once again reared its ugly head for the Celtics in the first quarter.

When the Celtics didn’t give away the ball, it wasn’t pretty either. Boston started 0-for-6 from three-point range before Aaron Nesmith hit a corner three, and blew two layups. Miami hit 6-of-13 of their first quarter threes. Nunn, Robinson and Goran Dragić hit two threes each.

Nesmith had a great start. He scored nine points in the first quarter and flashed some signature hustle on Tommy Day.

Boston trailed 36-23 after a lopsided first quarter, and the deficit continued to swell as the Heat kept burning the defense for threes. Tyler Herro regained his Eastern Conference Finals form against the Celtics, hitting five of his first six shots for 12 points. Herro finished with those 12 points, doing all of his damage in the first half.

The lackluster perimeter defense continued into the second quarter. Miami exploded for 79 points in the first half. It was the third time in the past five games Boston allowed 70+ points in the first half. The Heat finished the first half with 65/55/100 shooting splits and five different players in double figures.

TD Garden erupted in boos at halftime as Boston trailed 79-53. Smart and Tatum led the Celtics in scoring at halftime with 13 points each. Fournier hit 3-5 shots in the first half for nine points, and added three rebounds and four assists.

Coming out of halftime, it was announced Robert Williams III would miss the second half with the same turf toe injury which kept him out of Friday’s loss against Chicago. Before Williams was announced as active against Miami, head coach Brad Stevens confirmed the turf toe would be a long-term issue to manage.

Fournier continued his hot start into the third quarter, hitting open spot-up looks and creating some chances for himself. Boston went on a 15-4 run to start the second half, fueled by 10 points from Fournier.

A key part in that run was drawing fouls. Boston was in the bonus for the final ten minutes of the third quarter.

The early third period run brought Boston within 12 at one point, but Jimmy Butler woke up from what was a slow first half. Butler had four first-half points, but finished the third quarter with 15 points to go along with 10 assists.

Trailing by 23 at the start of the fourth, Boston once again went on a run, cutting that lead to 12 after Carsen Edwards came in and provided an instant five-point boost. a 17-4 run over five and a half minutes brought Boston to within 10, 111-101. After being down 26, Boston cut the Heat lead to single digits with six minutes remaining, after trailing by double digits for most of the game.

Kemba Walker, who struggled making shots and turned the ball over a few times, was heating up on layups and free throws. Walker had just nine points entering the fourth quarter, but finished with 18.

Butler continued to be the x-factor for Miami, hitting a big three to keep Boston at bay, then getting to his spots and draining buckets. Butler, who was fifth in the league in free throw attempts per game, hit 7-of-8 of his free throws on the day.

With the loss, the Celtics fell two games behind Miami for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Right now, the Celtics are on track to be in the play-in tournament, unless they can beat Miami on Tuesday and gain back some ground.

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