On a night the Heat frittered away a huge lead and set an ignominious franchise record for fewest points in a quarter (five, in the third), Miami nevertheless escaped with the prize it coveted: the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat will host the No. 6 seed Charlotte Hornets beginning this weekend, with Games 1, 2 and if necessary, 5 and 7, at AmericanAirlines Arena. Dates and times were expected to be announced late Wednesday night.
Despite squandering a 24-point halftime lead in a 98-88 loss to Boston on Wednesday, the Heat secured the No. 3 seed because of Atlanta’s loss at Washington.
The Heat, Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all finished 48-34, but Miami is the No. 3 seed — despite being swept 3-0 in the season series by Boston — because it’s the only division winner of the four teams, having edged division rivals Atlanta and Charlotte in tiebreakers.
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The winner of the Heat-Hornets series will play the winner of the series between No. 2 Toronto and No. 7 Indiana.
The Heat and Hornets split their four games this season, with Miami winning one at home (104-94 in the season opener) and one on the road (98-95 on Feb. 5) and losing one road game (99-81 on Dec. 9) and one at home, 109-106, on March 17.