Monday, April 1, 2019

Celtics 110, Heat 105: Boston holds off Miami in Dwyane Wade's last game at TD Garden

Dwyane Wade played his final game at TD Garden this season as the future hall-of-fame shooting guard plans to call it a career at the end of this season.

The Heat, a team clinging onto the final playoff spot of the Eastern Conference, entered Monday's game knowing there were playoff implications on the line and left Boston with a 110-105 loss to their name. Prior to tip-off, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and the Celtics honored Wade with a piece of the parquet floor from the 2008 championship before the 16-year veteran took the floor and was welcomed with plenty of cheer from the fans in attendance, some decked out in Heat attire, others simply paid their respects.

"Just playing the game, obviously, you try to enjoy it," Wade said after the game. "When the crowd does an ovation, you have to play the game and I thought I was doing that to help my team get a win and figure out how to do that. Right now, you look back on it and obviously just a lot of moments with this organization. We played them another time, we've had a lot of playoff battles, a lot I've lost, a lot I've lost. Just another one of those franchises that helped myself and this organization know what it takes to win and get to that next level. 
"We had to beat this organization to get there once we developed the 'Big 3,' appreciate them pushing us. They were the big brothers for a long time and we eventually (won), you know, but we're thankful for what they did from that standpoint."
Although Celtics were the victors Monday night, Miami certainly made things interesting in the second half when they trimmed a 23-point deficit down to three. Wade led the second unit with 17 points on 8-of-17 shooting and 7 assists while Goran Dragic netted a team-high 30 point to go with his five steals. However, back-to-back 3-pointers by Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier was enough cushion for the Celtics, who prevented Miami from grabbing its first lead of the night while Kyrie Irving's 25 points carried the load throughout the second half.

Al Horford reached a triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) and Jayson Tatum finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

Win or lose, walking off the parquet floor on final time was odd for Wade, who had faced the Celtics in countless battles throughout his career.
"It surreal from the standpoint of excitement," Wade said. "People who know wait for that moment. I try to sign every jersey that I can or whatever somebody decides to present me. It's just me taking a moment to show my appreciation, show my gratitude towards the fans."
Before the game, Brad Stevens named Wade one of the greatest leaders in the league and a player he thinks could play a few more years before hanging it up. However, Kyrie Irving says he respects Wade's decision to leave the game on his own terms.
"I think that the most important thing as you go through your life, but especially your professional career, you're the one that's going to know when it's time," Irving said. As long as you're at peace with yourself, I'm fully supportive of that. I think he's invested a lot of time. He's sacrificed a lot of his life, dedicating himself to bring the best player he can be. I mean, let the man ride off in the sunset on the white horse, if it's time for him then it's time. We'll probably see him playing in some 40-and-over-summer leagues.
"It's just the transition going from an NBA player to a retired NBA player, is something I don't think anyone is truly ready for. But if he's at peace with it and he's happy with his career then by all means, he deserves an ovation. He gets a bunch of claps and congratulations from me because to do it the way he did it was (a) very special plot, coming in with (LeBron James, Chris Bosh & Carmelo Anthony), that whole class and he separated about early on."
Miami will look to return the favor from Monday on Wednesday when the Celtics and Heat will meet for a rematch.

Game Notes: 

Celtics: For a player who has flirted with a triple-double countless times, Al Horford surprisingly finished with a triple-double for only the second time in his career, first time as a member of the Celtics.

Josue Pavón

Photo used is courtesy of Getty Images

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