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Notebook: Celtics 78, Heat 66


Posted Wednesday April 25, 2012 12:52AM

By Brian Robb, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Sasha Pavlovic scored a season-high 16 points off the bench as the Boston Celtics overcame a horrific start to defeat the Miami Heat 78-66 at TD Garden. Paul Pierce was the only All-Star to see action for the undermanned squads, as both coaches had their second units battle for the majority of the sloppy contest. Behind the strong play of Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels (season-high 13 points), Boston's reserves were able to battle back from a double-digit first-half deficit and keep their team in the hunt for homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason against Atlanta. Without their Big Three, Miami was unable to execute offensively all night and finished with a season-low 66 points. The loss cemented the Heat as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, as the Chicago Bulls clinched the top spot after Miami's setback.

QUOTABLE: "You know these games are still important, probably for both teams. We pretty much know our rotation[for the postseason], but someone else is always going to help you in the playoffs, and games like this can give you confidence. That was huge for Sasha [Pavlovic].
-- Boston coach Doc Rivers

THE STAT: The Heat turned the ball over a season-high 25 times, with 11 of those miscues coming in the first quarter.

TURNING POINT: With the Celtics clinging to a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Pavlovic erupted for 12 points of his 16 points over a six-minute stretch, allowing Boston's reserves to push the lead to double digits and put Miami away.

QUOTABLE II: "In my 11 years, that's the worst game I've ever witnessed. In the NBA, you've got to take the good with the bad."
-- Miami's Shane Battier on the sloppy play of both teams

HOT: Pavlovic -- After going scoreless in the first half, the fill-in member of Boston's starting lineup had all 16 of his points after intermission, hitting 7-of-8 shots, including two from beyond the arc.

NOT: Boston's first quarter -- The hosts went scoreless for the first 6:15 of the contest, spotting Miami an 11-0 lead after missing their first seven shots. The Celts finished the quarter shooting 23.5 percent (4-for-17) from the field and tied a season-low with 10 points in the frame.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Udonis Haslem -- The veteran power forward continued his excellence on the glass, grabbing 13 rebounds for Miami in just 23 minutes. It was his fourth straight contest with double-digit boards, as he is averaging 11.2 rebounds over his past five games.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Tiquan Underwood, Kyle Arrington, and Kevin Faulk of the New England Patriots all took in the game from courtside at the Garden.

ROOKIE WATCH: With so many starters sidelined, it was a big night of action for the rookies on both sides. The standout of the four youngsters that saw major minutes was E'Twaun Moore, who grabbed seven rebounds in 24 minutes of action, setting career highs in both categories for himself. He also added seven points on 3-for-6 shooting.

NOTABLE: Ray Allen missed his eighth consecutive game due to bone spurs in his left ankle, although Rivers indicated he thinks Allen will be ready for the postseason. Kevin Garnett (rest/hip flexor), Rajon Rondo (back), Mickael Pietrus (knee) and Greg Steimsma (foot) also did not suit up for Boston. Rivers expects all of them to play except for Steimsma in the regular-season finale Thursday against Milwaukee. Chris Bosh told reporters before the game he has been bothered by a strained left hamstring over the past week. Dwyane Wade (finger), LeBron James (ankle), and Ronny Turiaf (hamstring) also did not play. Miami coach Erik Spolestra was unsure whether any of his injured players will be available Thursday night, but believes the entire roster will be healthy enough to suit up for the start of the postseason this weekend. With the victory, Boston won the season series over Miami 3-1. The Celtics remain one game back of Atlanta in the battle for home-court advantage in the first round, but they do hold the tiebreaker. The Hawks host Dallas on Thursday night.

UP NEXT: For the Heat Thursday @ Washington. For the Celtics, Thursday vs. Milwaukee.

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