MIAMI, April 11 – The Miami Heat earned sole possession of second place in the NBA Eastern Conference by cruising past Boston 100-77 in a battle between two teams hoping to go on long runs in the post-season."It was a playoff-atmosphere type of game, from the fans to both teams’ approach to what the game meant," Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. "It had that feel."
The Celtics and Heat entered Sunday’s anticipated showdown with identical 55-24 records.
LeBron James finished with 27 points and seven assists and Wade had 14 and eight for the Heat, who beat the Celtics for the first time in four meetings this season and have now lost just three of their last 16 games.
Chris Bosh had 13 points and eight rebounds in the win.
Miami need a combination of two wins or Celtics losses to secure the No. 2 seed in the East.
Paul Pierce scored 24 points and Kevin Garnett added 21 for Boston, who 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," Boston’s 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 Celtics fell behind by 22 at one point but then went on a 12-0 run to close the gap to 85-75.
It didn’t last long as a three-pointer from Miami’s Mike Bibby with 4:49 remaining, followed by a Bosh basket, restored the Heat’s 15-point lead.
"We built that lead by just keeping guys in front of us, contesting shots and flying around defensively," James said.