Celtics survive late-game collapse, edge Heat to maintain playoff position

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BOSTON -- If you saw the score from Boston’s game against Miami on Monday in the first quarter or early in the second, and didn’t check on it again until late in the fourth quarter, you would have thought you were being pranked on April’s Fool’s Day. 

But yes, that 23-point lead Boston enjoyed in the first half, the lead that stood at double digits for most of the night, was down to one possession with about two minutes to play. 

It had all the makings of yet another Celtics collapse, reminding folks of previous meltdowns at home. 

But as bad as the Celtics were in choking away a comfortable lead, the Miami Heat had its late-game struggles when it came to late-game execution as well. 

And so the Celtics managed to survive, milking that fat early cushion for all it was worth in squeaking out a 110-105 victory. 

CELTICS 110, HEAT 105

With the win, Boston (46-32) remains tied with the Indiana Pacers for the fourth-best record in the East following the Pacers’ win earlier in the night over Detroit. 

Because Boston leads the head-to-head series 2-1 with the Pacers, the Celtics remain in control of home court advantage in what’s likely to be a fourth versus fifth seed first-round matchup against Indiana. 

Meanwhile, the Heat (38-39) remain among the handful of teams fighting it out for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-105 win over the Miami Heat. 

STARS

Goran Dragic: Boston has had its issues this season with high-scoring guards. You can add Goran Dragic to the list, as he led all scorers with 30 points on 12-for-20 shooting.

Kyrie Irving: It wasn’t one of Kyrie Irving’s better shooting nights from the floor, but he did just enough to help Boston hold on for a victory with a final score that should not have been that close. Irving had 25 points on 7-for-19 shooting to go with eight rebounds.

Dwyane Wade: Brad Stevens is right. The more you watch him play, it’s clear that he still has some game in him beyond this farewell tour of a season. He had 17 points off the Heat bench on 8-for-17 shooting to go with seven assists and five rebounds. 

STUDS

Al Horford: This was a night when the Celtics got a little bit of everything from Al Horford who finished with a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. 

Bam Adebayo: Even before his meaningless 3-pointer at the end of the game, Adebayo had a strong game before that before tallying 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting along with 14 rebounds.

Jayson Tatum: The Celtics went to him early and often, and Tatum delivered one of his more complete games in terms of scoring and his overall defense. He would tally 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting along with six rebounds and five assists. 

Marcus Smart: We can talk about his defense all day long, but Marcus Smart’s scoring is becoming increasingly more important to this Boston team as time moves on. He had 16 points which included a 4-for-8 showing from 3-point range. 

DUDS

Terry Rozier: The Terry Rozier struggles at both ends of the floor continue, with Rozier scoring five points but doing so on just 1-for-5 shooting. 

Celtics composure: Boston got the win, but the final score in this game should have never been this close. Boston easing up on putting a team away when the chance presents itself, remains a problem for this team as they nearly squandered a 23-point lead which was a one possession game in the fourth quarter with about two minutes to play. 

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