Published On: Thu, Apr 4th, 2019

Hayward shines as Celtics hand Heat damaging defeat

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The results leave 4 East teams – Detroit, Brooklyn, Orlando and Miami – fighting for the last 3 playoff berths

Published 3:16 PM, April 04, 2019

Updated 3:16 PM, April 04, 2019

FINAL PUSH. Playoff-bound Boston gets a big lift from Gordon Hayward in the Celtics’ bid to secure a top 4 spot. Photo from NBA Twitter

FINAL PUSH. Playoff-bound Boston gets a big lift from Gordon Hayward in the Celtics’ bid to secure a top 4 spot. Photo from NBA Twitter

LOS ANGELES, USA – Gordon Hayward scored 11 of his 25 points in the 4th quarter to pace the Boston Celtics in a 112-102 NBA victory over Miami that saw the Heat drop out of playoff position on Wednesday, April 3 (Thursday, April 4, Manila time).

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Al Horford chipped in 21 for the Celtics, who maintained their slim edge in a tight Eastern Conference race over the Indiana Pacers – who beat the Detroit Pistons, 108-89.

“It was a tough one,” said Hayward, who made 12-of-13 attempts from the free throw line, matching Miami’s total from the stripe.

“It’s tough to beat a team twice in a row like that, especially at home, they’re desperate,” Hayward said.

“I thought we did a good job containing their runs. They made a couple, but we fired right back.

“It was a great win for us,” added Hayward, who noted that even though the Celtics have clinched a playoff berth, they have yet to lock up one of the top 4 spots that would give them home court advantage.

They’re ahead of the playoff-bound Pacers in 4th by virtue of a tiebreaker, both teams with identical 47-32 records.

The loss pushed the Heat down to 9th at 38-40 but remain in the playoff mix with the Detroit Pistons (39-39), Brooklyn Nets (39-40) and Orlando Magic (39-40).

In Detroit, Andre Drummond scored 28 points, pulled down 19 rebounds and had 3 steals and 3 blocked shots for the Pistons, but the Pacers took full advantage of the continued absence of Blake Griffin to seize the win.

The Pacers ended a 10-game road losing streak with their victory in Detroit, where the Pistons’ 11-game home win streak was snapped

Thaddeus Young scored 21 points with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner had 17 points apiece for Indiana, who beat the Pistons for the second time in 3 days.

“I hate playing teams back-to-back games,” admitted Young. “They get to lock in on you a little bit more. It’s a playoff-type setting.”

Despite the difficulties, the Pacers came up with a win that left the Pistons in 6th in the East, heading a group of 4 teams separated by just one game as they fight for 3 remaining playoff berths.

The Brooklyn Nets’ hopes took a hit with their 115-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors, who are chasing the Milwaukee Bucks for the top seed in the East.

The Orlando Magic, meanwhile, did themselves a world of good with a 114-100 victory over the New York Knicks that saw them leapfrog over Miami into 8th.

Piling the pressure on Miami, the 10th-placed Charlotte Hornets kept their slim hopes alive with a 115-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. – Rappler.com

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