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Celtics close out season with win over Heat

BOSTON (AP) -- The Miami Heat are ready to chase their first
championship.

The Heat closed the regular season with an 85-78 loss Wednesday
night to the Boston Celtics, who snapped a five-game losing streak
behind 19 points from Ryan Gomes and 17 from Tony Allen.

"It's all about mentality," Heat guard Gary Payton said. "We
play these teams four or five times a year anyway, so we just need
to not do the things that caused us to lose to them in the regular
season."

Miami (52-30) begins its playoff run on Saturday against No. 7
seed Chicago.

"I am excited. Our preparation begins tomorrow," Heat forward
Antoine Walker said. "When I was with Boston, we were just trying
to get in the playoffs. Our goal here is to win a championship."

The Celtics (33-49) also snapped a five-game slide at home and
finished with a 21-20 record in Boston.

"The way the season started, is the way it ended," Gomes said.
"Losing close games and turning the ball over made us lose a lot
of one-point games."

After leading 68-67 at the end of three quarters, the Celtics
began the fourth period with a 14-0 run to open an 82-67 lead.
Miami went 8:48 without a field goal in the fourth quarter until
Dorell Wright hit a layup with 3:12 remaining.

Reserve Orien Greene tied a career high with 14 points for
Boston, which missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Wright led Miami with 20 points and Walker chipped in with 14
while Miami shot 32 percent for the game.

"It is much easier to be the hunter than the hunted," Payton
said. "When you are the one not expected to do anything, you play
better."

Payton is making his 14th playoff appearance with his fifth
different team.

Boston averted a four-game season sweep by the Heat and took
advantage of the absences of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade. The
Celtics beat Miami for the second time in nine games.

"Chicago's speed and their pick-and-roll has given Miami
trouble in the past," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "At the end
of the day though, size will win out and that will favor Miami."

Miami and Boston combined to shoot 11-for-42 in the first
quarter, when the Celtics led 24-17. Walker buried a 3-pointer just
before halftime to tie the game at 46.

Paul Pierce did not play for Boston, but finished the season
averaging a career-high 26.8 points per game.

Game notes
Heat coach Pat Riley missed his second straight game to be
with his ailing mother. ... O'Neal became the sixth player in NBA
history to shoot 60 percent or better from the field in
back-to-back seasons. Artis Gilmore has the all-time record of six
straight years, from 1980-1986. ... The Celtics and Delaware North
Companies-Boston announced the Celtics' lease at TD Banknorth
Garden has been extended through the 2020-2021 season.