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Winderman’s view: The reality is this also is a mess of the Heat’s own creation

MIAMI — Observations and other notes of interest from Monday night’s 102-88 NBA playoff loss to the Boston Celtics:

– Yes, this is about the Celtics.

– Whose depth of talent is such that even Derrick White can be a leading man.

– Whose depth of talent is such that they can survive a calf injury to Kristaps Porzingis.

– And, yes, this also is about the Heat’s shorthanded roster, as Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier continue to look on from the bench in street clothes.

– But it also is about the Heat reducing their odds because of their approach to the regular season.

– With one more win, the opening-round opponent could have been the Cleveland Cavaliers.

– With two more regular-season wins, there could have been homecourt advantage in the opening round.

– Instead there is this desperation.

– With Wednesday in Boston looming as their expiration date for 2023-24.

– It didn’t have to be this way.

– No, not this series.

– Against the Celtics it always was going to end this way.

– But there could have been another path.

– A path created by not minimizing the first 82.

– The Heat again opened with Bam Adebayo, Nikola Jovic, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Caleb Martin and Tyler Herro.

– That was with Butler, Rozier and Josh Richardson again out.

– Of having to endure in the ongoing absences of Butler (knee) and Rozier (back), Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “I think we’re probably better suited for that than most. We’ve played enough games with some facsimile of this kind of lineup, maybe not with both Terry and Jimmy out. But we played the majority of the season without Terry.”

– The Heat opened with their zone defense.

– While also opening with a considerable volley of 3-point shots.

– Didn’t matter.

– Didn’t help.

– Kevin Love and Haywood Highsmith entered together first off the Heat bench.

– Delon Wright then followed.

– Wright was back after missing Saturday night’s Game 3 for the birth of his daughter.

– “It’s great to have him back,” Spoelstra said. “It’s also a beautiful weekend for Delon, and it’s an amazing blessing. And we need all hands on deck right now.”

– Spoelstra said Wright’s return returned a needed skillset.

– “The disruptiveness, the intangibles that he brings definitely fit,” Spoelstra said.

– From there, it was Patty Mills who followed.

– And not Duncan Robinson.

– Who continues to deal with a back ailment.

– The only available Heat players not to see action in the opening period were Duncan Robinson, Orlando Robinson and Thomas Bryant.

– Duncan Robinson then checked in for the first time with 6:49 to play in the second period.

– Seemingly significantly limited in his minutes.

– Robinson entered with 143 playoff 3-pointers, the only undrafted players with more were former Knicks guard John Starks (176) and former Heat forward Bruce Bowen (168).

– Spoelstra was asked pregame about the need for a fast start.

– “It would be ideal,” he said. “Setting the tone for the game already helps. It just gets the tenor in the right direction for everybody, the feel, all of that.”

– But he added, “Whatever happens, we have to handle it and put ourselves in a better position to win.”

– The Heat then fell behind by 15 in the opening period.

– Spoelstra said pregame what it couldn’t be about was only about the start.

– “This is competition. It’s the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not always going to go how you want it to go, but you still can find a way to win.”

– Spoelstra said the challenge of the top-seeded Celtics has been as expected.

– “And this is what we all want,” he said. “We want to be tested, we want to be challenged and the idea of a playoff series is they can bring a high level out of our entire group, the competitive nature and the high quality of competition.”

– Herro extended his streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to 38, dating to the regular season. Herro’s longest such streak is 53 combined regular-season and playoff games, a run that ended March 2, 2021.

– Among those courtside pregame were Goran Dragic and Cody Martin, twin brother of Heat forward Caleb Martin.

– As well as Messi, Suárez, Alba and Busquets.

– And Chris Tucker.

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