Heat’s season ends with blowout loss to Celtics in first round. Takeaways and postgame reaction

The Boston Celtics ended the Miami Heat’s season in the 2022 Eastern Conference finals before the Heat earned revenge by eliminating the Celtics in the 2023 East finals. This season, it was the Celtics’ turn to get the Heat back for the previous year’s pain.

The injury-depleted Heat’s season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs with an ugly 118-84 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night at TD Garden. The 34-point defeat is the second-most lopsided playoff loss in Heat history.

The top-seeded Celtics won the best-of-7 series, 4-1, over the eighth-seeded Heat and advance to face the winner of the series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs.

“Credit to Boston. They took care of business,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said. “I felt like we had different parts throughout the series where we could have grabbed hold of it and made it more of a series. But hats off to them. They made the right plays on both ends and they outplayed us.”

For the Heat, its season ends in the first round after making three East finals appearances and two NBA Finals appearances in the previous four years. The Heat lost to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals last season.

Wednesday’s result wasn’t necessarily surprising, though, considering so much Heat talent was out because of injuries. The Heat played the entire series without Jimmy Butler (right knee MCL sprain), Terry Rozier (neck spasms) and Josh Richardson (right shoulder surgery).

In addition, the Heat was missing rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr because of a hip injury he suffered in Game 4 of the series. Also, Duncan Robinson was available but limited in the series because of a lingering back injury.

The Celtics, which closed the regular season with the NBA’s top record at 64-18, overwhelmed the Heat from the start. Boston made eight of its first 13 three-point shots and pulled ahead by as many as 30 points in the first half.

It got worse for the Heat in the second half, as the Celtics’ lead grew to as large as 37 points.

Jaylen Brown and Derrick White led the Celtics’ balanced attack. Both scored a game-high 25 points.

“We’re not going to put this on the fact that we had some injuries,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Let’s not take anything away from Boston. They’ve been the best team in basketball all season long. And in this series in four of the games, they played as such.”

The Heat’s only win in the series came in Game 2 in Boston when it set a new franchise record for threes made in a playoff game with 23 three-point makes. The Heat’s four losses in the series all came by double-digits — three of them by 20 or more points.

“We learned a lot of lessons throughout this playoff series,” Heat All-Star center and captain Bam Adebayo said.

Five takeaways from the Heat’s blowout loss to the Celtics on Wednesday:

With so many of the Heat’s key players out, Adebayo competed hard until the end. But it just wasn’t enough.

Adebayo was solid throughout the series. And in Game 5 on Wednesday, Adebayo turned up his aggressiveness and was on track to play all 48 minutes if the game was within reach.

But the Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a 32-point lead, so Adebayo spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench after playing every second of the first three quarters.

In the Heat’s season-ending loss, Adebayo recorded a team-high 23 points on 10-of-26 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 shooting on threes and 2-of-2 shooting from the foul line, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in 36 minutes.

“I had every intention of playing him 48 minutes tonight if the game was within reach,” Spoelstra said. “Bam is a warrior. He’ll battle and he brought a competitive spirit tonight. But collectively, we were far from our best tonight.”

Adebayo tried to will the undermanned Heat from the start, totaling 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field in the first quarter. The nine first-quarter shots are tied for the second-most field goals he has attempted in an opening period during his NBA career.

By halftime, Adebayo had 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, three rebounds and four assists. The 17 shots stand alone as the most Adebayo has attempted in any half during his NBA career.

Adebayo finished the loss with 26 field-goal attempts. It’s the second-most shots that Adebayo has put up in any game during his NBA career, only behind a 27-shot night earlier this season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 28, 2023.

“Going into the game, it’s an elimination game,” Adebayo said of his approach to Game 5. “Backs against the wall, everybody counting us out, guys injured or whatever the case may be. At the end of the day, I’m still available to play. I’m going to be aggressive and go out there and give everything I got.”

Adebayo led the Heat in scoring in the series, averaging 22.6 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 2-of-10 shooting on threes. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in the five-game series while anchoring a Heat defense that only held up against the talented Celtics when Adebayo was on the court.

The Heat limited the Celtics to 113.8 points per 100 possessions with Adebayo on the court in the first round. But with Adebayo on the bench, the Celtics went off for 126.9 points per 100 possessions in the five games.

Despite Adebayo’s aggressive display, the Heat’s offense still didn’t have enough.

With so much offensive firepower sidelined, the Heat scored just 84 points on 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 3-of-29 (10.3 percent) shooting from three-point range in Wednesday’s loss. Miami scored fewer than 100 points in four games during the five-game series and was held under 90 points three times during the series.

The Heat’s three three-point makes on Wednesday were its fewest in a playoff game since the 2016 postseason.

That’s a problem against a Celtics team that finished this regular season with the top offensive rating in NBA history.

The Celtics’ prolific offense was on display in Game 5, totaling 118 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the field and 16-of-40 (40 percent) shooting on threes.

The Celtics dominated the Heat 48-9 from behind the arc on Wednesday on their way to the 34-point victory.

After setting a new franchise playoff record with 23 made threes in its Game 2 win in Boston, the Heat made a total of 21 threes in Games 3, 4 and 5. Miami shot just 21 of 90 (23.3 percent) from behind the arc during the final three games of the series.

Herro hopes to learn from this five-game playoff series.

Because of all the Heat’s injuries, Herro stepped into a bigger offensive role and the Celtics made him the focal part of their defensive game plan.

With elite perimeter defenders like Jrue Holiday and Derrick White on Herro for most of the series, producing efficient offense was a challenge.

It was a challenge again in Game 5, as Herro finished the loss with 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field and 1-of-8 shooting on threes, three rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes.

Herro was great in the Heat’s Game 2 win, recording 24 points on 13 field-goal attempts, five rebounds and a career-high 14 assists.

But in the other four games of the series, Herro averaged 15 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 23-of-65 (35.4 percent) shooting from the field and 9-of-32 (28.1 percent) shooting from three-point range.

“I feel like I’m going to be able to take away a lot from how they guarded me throughout the whole series,” Herro said, “with the face guards, double teams, switches, really crowding the paint when I did get in the paint and then just really making it tough on me at all times.”

With Jaquez missing his first game of the series, the Heat used another new starting lineup.

The Heat started Delon Wright in Jaquez’s place for Game 5 on Wednesday alongside Herro, Caleb Martin, Nikola Jovic and Adebayo. It marked the 37th different starting lineup that the Heat has used this season after setting a new franchise record with 35 different starting lineups this regular season.

This lineup never played together in the regular season and logged just eight minutes together through the first four games of the series before starting Game 5.

In the first playoff start of his NBA career, Wright finished with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes.

Wright left Game 5 briefly in the first quarter after taking an elbow to the mouth while defending a layup attempt by Brown, who was called for an offensive foul on the play with 4:26 left in the opening period. After Wright received a few stitches inside of his lower lip/chin, he returned to the game with 7:35 left in the second quarter.

Spoelstra made another change to the Heat’s starting lineup to begin Wednesday’s second half. Miami opened the third quarter with Patty Mills on the court instead of Jovic.

Jovic entered off the bench for his first action of the second half with 6:24 left in the third quarter.

The Heat enters an offseason that will be filled with important roster decisions.

The only players on the Heat’s 15-man standard roster with guaranteed salaries for next season are Butler, Adebayo, Herro, Rozier, Duncan Robinson, Jaquez and Jovic.

Martin ($7.1 million player option), Kevin Love ($4 million player option), Richardson ($3.1 million player option) and Thomas Bryant ($2.8 million player option) all have player options in their contracts to either return to the Heat or become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Orlando Robinson’s $2.1 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

And Haywood Highsmith, Mills and Wright are all set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason.

Then there’s also the fact that Adebayo and Butler become eligible for expensive extensions this summer, which means the Heat will need to address both of their futures with the organization in the coming months.

The Heat also holds the No. 15 overall pick in the first round and 43rd overall pick in the second round of the NBA’s two-round draft, which will span two days this year from June 26-27.

The Heat is not permitted to trade its first-round pick before the draft because it owes a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the NBA doesn’t allow teams to be without consecutive future first-round picks. But the Heat could select a player on behalf of another team in the draft as part of a trade that’s agreed to before or during the draft, but is announced and finalized after the draft.