The Celtics had a golden opportunity to lock up the No. 3 seed on Tuesday night with Jimmy Butler out of the lineup for the Heat. That combined with a back-to-back game for Miami put the C’s in a tremendous spot to take advantage of a shorthanded fourth-seeded squad.
Boston failed to deliver on that front however, looking a step slow all night defensively against an energized Heat squad on their way to 112-106 defeat. Five different players scored in double figures for the Heat, led by center Bam Adebayo (21 points, career-high 18 free throw attempts) and Duncan Robinson (21 points).
Jayson Tatum led the C’s with 23 points but the C’s had an inefficient shooting night overall, knocking down just 31 percent of their 3s. That combined with a parade to the FT stripe by the Heat (39 attempts on the night) built a double-digit lead early for Miami that Boston wasn’t able to recover from.
The C’s lead in the East for the No. 3 seed is now down to 1.5 games with five games left to play.