The Celtics refused to play defense in their biggest game of the season

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The Celtics rallied late, but a flurry of fourth quarter buckets wasn’t enough to overcome an atrocious defensive effort and embarrassingly lifeless start.

Stop me if you’ve heard that before.

The Heat beat the Celtics 130-124 at the TD Garden Sunday, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates. Miami scored 79 points in the first half, marking the third time in five games the Celtics have allowed an opponent to drop 70 points in the game’s two opening quarters. The Heat entered the contest with the 25th-ranked offense in the league.

On Tommy Heinsohn Day, the Celtics delivered a performance that would’ve given the Hall of Famer a conniption.

The Celtics held a moment of silence before the game for Heinsohn, who passed away last November due to kidney failure. As a broadcaster, Heinsohn famously gave out “Tommy Points” to players who exhibited hustle and grit — usually on the defensive end.

Nobody on the Celtics would’ve been in contention for one Sunday, with the exception of Aaron Nesmith, who once again shined with a spirited second-half performance (16 points in 19 minutes). Finally, the Celtics’ rookie class is showing some life.

It is one of the few bright spots at the end of a dismal season.

With this loss, the Celtics fall to 35-33, placing them firmly in the No. 7 seed. The path out of the play-in game is now daunting: Miami holds a two-game lead.

Once again, the Celtics didn’t show any interest in playing defense during the first 24 minutes. Their failure to stop anybody was jarring Sunday, because it came less than 48 hours after they had allowed 121 points to the lowly Bulls. It was the biggest game of the season, and the Celtics came out flat. They were rightfully booed at halftime.

Brad Stevens stated the obvious after the game. “I need to do a better job of making sure those first halves don't get away from us,” he said.

And we all need to do a better job of making sure the Celtics don’t tease us anymore this spring. This team isn’t going anywhere.

The Celtics allowed five Heat players — Trevor Ariza, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo — to reach double figures in the first half. Herro was especially potent, going 5-of-6 from the floor to begin the game.