Heat fail to fire, now one loss from elimination after falling 93-80 to Celtics

The first-quarter futility from their Monday night Game 4 loss at TD Garden this time came in the fourth quarter for the Miami Heat.

Which leaves only two options for the Heat’s next home game: a Sunday Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in these Eastern Conference finals, or next October at the outset of the franchise’s 35th season.

Unable to make a shot, particularly a 3-pointer, the Heat fell into a 3-2 series hole with a 93-80 loss Wednesday night. The Celtics can close out the series with a Game 6 victory Friday night on their home court.

It was a game the Heat began in physical pain and exited in series distress.

Jimmy Butler, clearly still dealing with a balky knee, again was off with his shot, this time 4 of 18.

Kyle Lowry, yet to overcome the hamstring strain suffered in the opening round, was largely immobile, without a point or assist.

And Tyler Herro could not even make it to the opening jump, held out a second consecutive game with a groin strain.

Center Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but otherwise there was precious little against the stifling Celtics’ defense.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 25 points, supported by 22 from Jayson Tatum and 16 from Al Horford.

Five Degrees of Heat from Wednesday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat led 19-17 at the end of the first quarter and 42-37 at halftime.

But with a 10-0 run to close the third quarter, the Celtics took a 69-58 lead into the fourth, the game’s first double-digit lead.

The Celtics took off from there, their run eventually growing to 24-2, the Heat nearly as inept as their 18-1 start to Monday night’s Game 4 loss in Boston.

2. Lowry, can’t: Lowry clearly has not gotten back up to speed from the hamstring strain that kept him out of the final two games of the previous round and the first two of this series.

Walking the ball up the court and often having other handling, Lowry was pulled midway though the fourth quarter.

The Heat’s only life at point guard came from Gabe Vincent, whose 10 points at the end of the third quarter were tied with Adebayo for team high at that stage. Vincent closed with 15 points.

3. Nor can Butler: Although off the injury report two games after sitting out the second half of Saturday’s Game 3 due to knee pain, Butler again appeared to lack explosion.

A game after shooting 3 of 14 Monday in Boston, Butler this time opened 1 of 7 from the field, often off on drives that needed stronger finishes.

He then dropped to 2 of 10 before his next basket.

He later stepped up with a 3-pointer in that opening period, his second of the series, but then airballed a 3-point attempt on the Heat’s first possession of the fourth, dropping to 3 of 13 from the field.

4. Doomed from distance: The Heat closed 7 of 45 on 3-pointers, with Game 3 hero Max Strus 0 for 7, Lowry 0 for 5, Vincent 1 for 7, Duncan Robinson 3 of 10 and Butler and P.J. Tucker each 1 of 5.

The Heat led the NBA in 3-point shooting during the regular season, at .379, but went into Wednesday 13th in the 16-team playoff field at .326.

While the Celtics’ defense was on point, several of the looks also were open.

5. Revised rotation: Small ball was the Heat’s order of the day, with 6-foot-5 Tucker cast at center after the first wave of substitutions and Dewayne Dedmon shuffled out of the mix.

Victor Oladipo and Vincent entered together first off the bench, followed by Robinson, who was utilized ahead of Caleb Martin and Dedmon.

It was the second consecutive game that Oladipo essentially was cast in Herro’s sixth-man role.

Martin later entered as ninth man, before coach Spoelstra reached for Robinson amid the Heat’s shooting struggles.


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