ATLANTA, April 12- LeBron James finished with 34 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat beat Atlanta 98-90 Monday to secure the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed.
James Jones had two crucial three point baskets down the stretch for the Heat who won their third straight game.
"It took us 81 games to get to this point but there’s a lot more work to do," James said.
Miami secured its postseason spot after Boston lost to Washington in overtime on Monday.
That gave the Heat a two-game lead over the Celtics with only one game to play. Miami will face Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs. The Celtics will get the third seed and will face sixth seeded New York Knicks.
"Sometimes it’s not pretty, but we’re doing the little things necessary to win," Heat star Dwyane Wade said. "That’s what will matter in the playoffs, because some games won’t be so pretty."
Josh Smith returned from an injury to score a team-high 17 points for the Hawks who nearly rallied from a 20-point deficit. Atlanta lost their fifth straight game but they hope to snap that dubious string when they face Charlotte Wednesday in their final regular season game.
The Hawks went to a makeshift lineup for the final period and nearly pulled it off.
The game got testy with just over three minutes to go when Zydrunas Ilgauskas took exception to the move and smashed the ball off Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia’s back as he turned to head back down the court.
Ilgauskas was ejected by the officials.
"I didn’t know if it was the ball or a punch," Pachulia said. "I don’t know what he was mad about."