Heat guard Dion Waiters celebrates end of Celtics winning streak.

Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports

Heat 104, Celtics 98: Winning streak ends at 16 despite yet another spirited comeback

John Tomase
November 22, 2017 - 11:27 pm
Categories: 

And now, we can get on with the rest of the season.

The Celtics weren't going to win forever, and on Wednesday night their 16-game streak came to an end with a 104-98 loss in Miami.

In losing for the first time since Oct. 18 -- the Yankees and Cubs both won playoff games that night -- the Celtics still managed to give their fans what we've come to expect during this incredible run, shaving an 18-point deficit to one before Dion Waiters rolled a 3-pointer off the top of the backboard and into the hoop for the basket that ended up sealing it.

The Celtics were out of sync for most of this one, looking sluggish on their rotations and losing the 50-50 balls they had vacuumed up during their month-long run. They were outrebounded, 48-37 and made uncharacteristic mistakes, like point guard Kyrie Irving spending nearly 10 seconds in the offensive end while the Heat played 5-on-4 vs. everyone else.

Guard Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26) combined for 53 points, including 11 in the final three minutes as Miami held off a furious Celtics rally. Irving (23) and Jayson Tatum (18) paced the Celtics, who shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 9-for-26 on 3-pointers.

With the winning streak complete,  the Celtics can return to the business of figuring out exactly who they are without All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward.

The streak has obscured some concerns, particularly a lack of scoring off the bench, which has placed extra pressure on the backcourt of Irving and Jaylen Brown, as well as Tatum and Al Horford, to take over games down the stretch.

Celtics reserves shot just 9-for-28 (.321) en route to 34 points. Miami's bench, by contrast, shot 13-for-24 (.542).

With Marcus Smart still a shot-making liability and fellow guard Terry Rozier inconsistent, the Celtics need help on the second unit behind forward Marcus Morris. Perhaps the $8.4 million disabled player exception they've been granted to replace Hayward can be used to bolster the bench.

The other issue head coach Brad Stevens will undoubtedly want to address is the fact that team has made a habit of playing from behind. Irving's magic had saved them down the stretch of previous games, but the reality is the Celtics are probably three or four plays a night from being in the midst of a six-game losing streak.

In any event, the streak is over and it was great while it lasted. Now it's time to figure out what comes next.

Comments ()