The LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers coughed up another fourth-quarter lead tonight and lost in overtime to the Miami Heat. The result gives the Boston Celtics the first seed in the Eastern Conference and keeps the Miami Heat’s playoff hopes alive. It’s also utterly demoralizing for the Cavs.
This was Cleveland’s second straight overtime loss and third consecutive loss since beating the Celtics last week—a win that seemed sure to lock up the East. However, the Cavs blew a 26-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Atlanta Hawks yesterday, and choked away another lead, losing to the Hawks’ bench by 14 points last Friday. Tonight, they blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead.
James played nearly every minute of both of the games against the Hawks, but he sat out tonight (calf) along with Kyrie Irving (knee). The Cavaliers’ Deron Williams stepped in to pick up the slack, racking up 35 points, which is more than he’s scored in his previous eight games combined. He also notched seven rebounds and nine assists, but committed 10 turnovers, including a terrible pass during the final, potentially game-winning play of the fourth quarter, in which he all but handed the ball to a pleasantly surprised Hassan Whiteside.
In overtime, Kevin Love made a three-pointer and drew a foul to make it a four-point play.
A few minutes later, Williams was also fouled on a three-pointer for another four points. But the Cavs’ defense couldn’t hold on in the stretch and they lost 124-121. To regain the one-seed, the Cavs must beat the Toronto Raptors and the Celtics need to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks.