For the Miami Heat, the season is going down to the final night. They need a win. They need some help. But they still have a chance.
Tyler Johnson scored 24 points, including the game’s final four from the foul line in overtime, and the Heat kept their postseason hopes alive by rallying past the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 on Monday night. The Heat (40-41) remained No. 9 in the Eastern Conference, a game behind No. 7 Indiana (41-40) and a tiebreaker behind No. 8 Chicago (40-41).
”We think it’s meant to be,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”But we have to take care of business.”
That, and get some assistance. For Miami to reach the postseason – a near-impossibility after its 11-30 start – either Indiana or Chicago must lose.
Here’s Wednesday’s slate: Miami hosts Washington (which is locked into the No. 4 spot), Chicago hosts NBA-worst Brooklyn, and Indiana hosts Atlanta.
”It’s win or go home,” Heat guard Josh Richardson said. ”Win, and we still might go home.”
They top CLE 124-121 in OT. Tyler Johnson scores 24 PTS. Whiteside: 23 PTS / 18 REB. Williams: 35 PTS pic.twitter.com/BvTTtrB8lZ
— NBA (@NBA) April 11, 2017
Hassan Whiteside scored 23 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for Miami. Richardson scored 19 points, James Johnson had 16 and Goran Dragic added 15.
Deron Williams had a season-high 35 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, who fell to 0-7 this season when LeBron James doesn’t play. The Cavs were also without Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and fell a game behind Boston for No. 1 in the East.
James sat with a right calf strain. Irving has a sore left knee.
”I thought the effort was great,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ”It was unbelievable.”
Kevin Love scored 25 points, Channing Frye had 21 and Kyle Korver had 18 for Cleveland, which wasted a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead and lost in OT for the second straight day.
On Sunday, Cleveland was up 26 going into the fourth in Atlanta. This time, the lead going into the fourth was 11.
”I don’t think you take too much out of it,” Korver said.
Miami survived despite two Cleveland four-point plays in overtime, including one by Williams with 34 seconds left that put the Heat down one. But Miami rallied for its 29th win in the last 40 games.
”Even if we wouldn’t have started 11-30, to go to the last game and have an opportunity to be in the playoffs, you would take that,” Tyler Johnson said. ”But I think it makes it that much more special knowing everybody was kicking dirt on us two months ago.”
Cavaliers: If history holds, James won’t play Wednesday. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season finale since 2007. … Thompson sat again with a sprained right thumb. … G Kay Felder (left lower leg) left the game in the third quarter. … Williams had a career-worst 10 turnovers.
Heat: Dion Waiters (ankle) missed his 12th consecutive game. … James Johnson had nine assists. … Miami had a 20-6 edge in second chance points and an 8-0 edge in fast break points.
Chris ”Birdman” Andersen, who played for both Cleveland and Miami, was in a baseline seat opposite the Heat bench. Andersen won a title in Miami in 2013. He appeared in 12 games with the Cavs this season before being sidelined by a knee injury.
The league’s Last Two Minute Report of Sunday’s Cleveland-Atlanta game showed three calls late in regulation and overtime that negatively impacted the Cavs’ chances in what became a 126-125 loss. ”It’s too late now. It’s over,” Lue said.
Cavaliers: Host Toronto on Wednesday, the last tuneup before the playoffs start.
Heat: Host Washington on Wednesday, looking to go 4-0 against the Wizards this season.
All Monday’s results from the NBA:
Indiana Pacers 120-111 Philadelphia 76ers
Brooklyn Nets 105-114 Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers 121-124 Miami Heat (OT)
Washington Wizards 105-101 Detroit Pistons
Orlando Magic 75-122 Chicago Bulls
Charlotte Hornets 79-89 Milwaukee Bucks
San Antonio Spurs 98-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Houston Rockets 96-125 Los Angeles Clippers
Utah Jazz 105-99 Golden State Warriors