BOSTON — The Boston Celtics held off a late Miami charge and moved into a virtual tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with a 112-108 victory over the Heat on Sunday night.
The win moved Boston (48-26) to just four percentage points behind the idle Cleveland Cavaliers (47-25) for the top seed in the conference. The teams meet April 5 in Boston.READ MORE: Patriots-Bills Forecast: Lake-Effect Snow Could Fall On Very Windy, Cold Monday Night Football Game In Buffalo
Isaiah Thomas, the league’s leading fourth-quarter scorer, tallied eight points in the final 4:58 after the Celtics, who rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit, blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead and trailed by two with 4:13 remaining.
Offensive rebounds by Al Horford and Marcus Smart were key plays down the stretch as the Celtics won for the 14th time in their last 15 home games and for the fourth time in as many games on this six-game homestand.
A goaltending call against Miami that stood up under review gave Boston a four-point lead with 20.6 seconds left.
The Heat, still in the mix to get as high as fifth in the conference, fell to 35-38 and saw their lead over the Chicago Bulls for the eighth spot fall to a half-game.READ MORE: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski Inch Closer Toward NFL History Together
Thomas, guilty of six turnovers, finished with 30 points — his 49th 25-point-plus game of the season. Jae Crowder, whose two free throws iced it with 8.1 seconds left, had a season-high 25 points and grabbed six rebounds. Amir Johnson added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Horford had seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the win.
Miami’s Hassan Whiteside had his 51st double-double of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Tyler Johnson and James Johnson, both coming off the bench, scored 24 and 20 points, respectively, for the Heat, again playing without the injured Dion Waiters.
It was Thomas’ 65th 20-point game of the season, tying him with Russell Westbrook for the NBA lead. He scored 52 points against the Heat Dec. 30.
In sweeping the four-game season series from Miami, the Celtics matched last season’s victory total.MORE NEWS: 19-Year-Old In Custody After Lawrence Shooting Leaves 1 Dead
NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley, who missed Friday night’s game because of illness, was back, playing in just his 49th game because of injury and sickness. Miami G Dion Waiters didn’t make the trip because of an ankle sprain and missed his fourth straight game. “There’s no new timetable,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. … Celtics G Isaiah Thomas extended his club record with a 3-pointer in his 48th straight game. … The Celtics improved to 22-0 when leading after three quarters at home. … Bradley would have been one of the players trying to guard the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker in his 70-point game, saying Sunday, “It was tough to watch but at the same time incredible.” … The Heat continue their three-game road trip at Detroit on Tuesday, while the Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.