If this was an Eastern Conference semifinals preview, then the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics showed what to expect. Few pleasantries. Pushing and shoving. And maybe a Game 7 in Miami.
LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade added 14 and the Heat moved closer to the No. 2 seed in the East playoffs Sunday by beating the sliding Celtics 100-77.
“It was a playoff-atmosphere type of game, from the fans to both teams’ approach to what the game meant,” Wade said. “It had that feel.”
Miami moved a game ahead of Boston, trimming its magic number to clinch the second seed to two. The teams will finish second and third in some order behind Chicago in the East, slotted to play in the conference semifinals.
“We’d like to play them, I can tell you that,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “And we may have to if we want to go somewhere.”
Chris Bosh added 13 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which had been 0-3 against Boston this season, though Heat coach Erik Spoelstra cautioned against overstating the win’s importance.
“We proved we can beat them tonight,” Spoelstra said. “That’s about it, in my mind.”
Paul Pierce scored 24 points and Kevin Garnett added 21 for Boston, which lost for the 10th time in its last 19 games. The Celtics were outrebounded 42-26, and outscored 44-26 in the paint.
“What else do you expect? It’s Boston-Miami,” Garnett said. “Supposedly it’s two of, if not the top two, teams in the East. You have to expect that. You have to expect that coming in here you’re not going to get the call. You had to expect their passion — a team you have beaten three times.”
The Heat finally solved the Boston hex, beating the Celtics for the third time in the last 21 meetings. Bosh had been 1-13 against Boston since March 2007, and the Celtics ended both the 2009-10 seasons for Wade (in the first round) and James (in the second round).
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