Celtics' Win Streak Snapped at 16 Games by Heat Despite Kyrie Irving's 23 Points

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2017

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Dion Waiters #11 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Boston Celtics on November 22, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

The Miami Heat ended the Boston Celtics' 16-game winning streak with a 104-98 home victory Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.       

Kyrie Irving had 23 points on 11-of-22 shooting but was 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Dion Waiters scored 26 points, while Goran Dragic had a game-high 27 points to propel the Heat to the win.

The Heat reveled in ending Boston's streak:

Waiters connected on a pair of clutch three-pointers late in the fourth quarter to deny the Celtics' comeback attempt. Naturally, his performance was a topic of conversation on social media:

According to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Waiters' heroics and the close finish caught the attention of some Cleveland Cavaliers players who were in their locker room after a 119-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena:

The Heat were up big for most of the game, and things only got interesting when the Celtics went on a run in the fourth quarter. Boston sputtered out of the gates, with Miami leading by as many as 18 points in the second quarter before carrying a 54-41 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

Boston ended up shooting 35-of-84 as a team, with Al Horford in particular struggling through the first 24 minutes. Horford was 1-of-7 from the field and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Trailing by 13 points at halftime wasn't cause for major concern for the Celtics, though. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Boston has won five of six games this season in which it faced a double-digit deficit. Just in their last game, the Celtics closed a 13-point gap on the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter before winning 110-102 in overtime.

NBC Sports Boston's Max Lederman noted as well the Heat have tended to start fast and fade as a game goes on:

The Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman also questioned whether Miami's sloppiness would catch up to the team:

The Heat looked to have the game in hand in the fourth quarter. They were up 79-63 to start the final frame, and the Celtics were down 89-74 with 8:04 remaining. Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine thought Boston had Miami right where it wanted it, though:

Devine's assertion proved prophetic, as the Heat offense collapsed over a four-minute stretch of the fourth quarter in which the Celtics went on a 13-0 run to make it a one-point game, 91-90, with 3:14 left.

Waiters' back-to-back three-pointers gave the Heat some much-needed breathing room, and Miami avoided what would've been a major collapse.

The Celtics entered Wednesday night with the NBA's best defensive rating (95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions). Boston has been somewhat susceptible inside, though, allowing opponents to shoot 61.8 percent inside six feet (19th in the league).

Between the size of Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk—both of whom stand 7'0"—and the driving ability of Dragic and Waiters, the Heat posed a consistent enough threat inside to take advantage of that weakness. Miami outscored Boston 52-40 in the paint.

The Heat also used their size to out-rebound the Celtics 48-37, with Whiteside collecting 10 boards in addition to his eight points.

The Celtics have Thanksgiving Day off before a starting a back-to-back Friday night at home at TD Garden against the Orlando Magic. Boston then hits the road for a Saturday tilt with the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Heat, meanwhile, will embark on a four-game road trip starting Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They meet the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks over the next five days before coming back home Dec. 1 against the Charlotte Hornets.

     

Advanced stats courtesy of NBA.com.

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