Missed opportunities haunt Miami Heat in loss to Boston Celtics

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 28: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 28: Dion Waiters /

Kyrie Irving scored nine of his 24 points during the final two minutes of the Miami Heat’s loss to the Boston Celtics.

Through five games, the Miami Heat have already experienced several highs and lows. One of the latter moments occurred during Saturday night’s 96-90 loss to the Boston Celtics, at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Goran Dragic led the way with 22 points and four assists for the Heat, who also got 16 points a piece from both Josh Richardson and James Johnson.

On a night in which Dion Waiters struggled mightily (shooting 2-of-8 from the field), the Heat got 14 points and nine rebounds from former Celtic Kelly Olynyk. The big man has done a solid job filling in for the sidelined Hassan Whiteside, who missed his fourth straight game with a bone bruise in his left knee.

In a somber locker room after the loss, Dragic made it clear that he is not playing for last year’s results.

"“We need to bounce back, I don’t want to have the [same] season as last year. Where it’s already late and we figure out things. We need to do it now because it’s important.”"

Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 24 points, followed by an impressive 20-point performance from rookie Jayson Tatum. As for Marcus Smart, he added 16 points and four rebounds off the bench.

Dragic got Miami off to a quick start, scoring seven points in the first quarter as the Heat raced out to a quick 26-21 lead after one quarter. But despite the hot start, the Heat’s offensive success would not carry over into the second period.

Boston rattled off a quick 11-0 run during the opening minutes of the quarter, and led 36-30 around the midway point. Though struggling offensively, the Heat were only down two at the half, and had held Irving relatively in check up to that point (with just nine points).

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra compared this contest to a classic 1980s grudge match, since niether team could find a consistent offensive rhythm.

"“What you had was a throwback possession game. It felt like at the end they were exposing us. In this modern NBA game, this was a game in the ’80s.”"

The Celtics would continue their hot shooting during that span, opening the third quarter with an 11-4 run as the Heat seemed hopeless to stop them. Tatum recored nine points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, as Boston led 74-63 heading into the fourth.

Determined not to lose a second consecutive game at home, Dragic turned up the intensity to start the period, recording 11 points during the quarter. The Heat were then able to pull within two following their own 7-0 run.

It was Irving however, who would seal the deal for the Celtics.

On both occasions in which the Heat were within striking distance from taking the lead, the former Duke Blue Devil took it upon himself to answer with a basket, quieting the Miami crowd. His 3-pointer with 57 seconds left sealed the win, and for the first time in his illustrious young career, Irving will be departing South Beach a victor.

Although they were able to climb back within reach, it was the middle two quarters that would wind up being Miami’s downfall. Boston outscored the Heat 53-37 during those periods, holding Miami to just 39 percent shooting over that stretch. The Heat finished 7-of-31 from beyond-the-arc, and shot just 19 percent from that distance during that futile 24-minute span.

Forward Justise Winslow feels that much of Miami’s wounds were self-inflicted, and he was adamant about that postgame.

"“We have to get better connected and more organized offensively. We just have to figure it out. We’ve got to get guys in the right spots. We got to understand each other’s strengths and play to them.”"

Next: Miami Heat president Pat Riley is asking for a little bit of patience

The Heat (2-3) will remain home for a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, October 30, at 7:30 PM ET.