Heat 94, Nets 86, 2OT

It was time, Mario Chalmers said.

Time to send Miami to Boston for the opening weekend of the

playoffs.

Time to put New Jersey’s miserable season to a predictable end

as well.

Chalmers gave Miami the lead for good early in the second

overtime, then assisted on each of his team’s final three field

goals as the Heat wrapped up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern

Conference by beating the Nets 94-86 Wednesday night – sending New

Jersey to its 70th and final loss of the season.

“We had a lot of these nights,” Nets guard Devin Harris

said.

Michael Beasley had 25 points and 13 rebounds before fouling

out, Chalmers finished with 15 points and Dorell Wright and James

Jones each scored 11 for Miami, which wasted a 13-point lead in the

fourth quarter.

Miami (47-35), the No. 5 seed for the second straight season,

heads to Boston on Saturday.

“You might say we were just trying to get ready for the next

season,” Chalmers said. “We’ve got a big competition coming up

with Boston.”

Yi Jianlian scored 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for New

Jersey (12-70), which erased a 12-point deficit in the final 6:48

of regulation. Courtney Lee scored 17, Brook Lopez had 12 and

Harris 10 for New Jersey.

“Looking forward to getting back to my day job and preparing

for the draft. I’m excited about that,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the

Nets general manager-turned-interim coach. “This was a good group

to coach. We didn’t win a lot, but we came to play. Second half of

the season, they really came to play.”

The Heat chose to rest Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem with an

array of minor injuries, and Jermaine O’Neal sat while continuing

to recover from an ankle problem. None of the issues are expected

to affect their availability for Game 1 of the playoffs, and O’Neal

insisted he would be ready for practice by Friday.

“Now we can prepare for the playoffs, something that we’re all

excited about,” Wade said.

Sparked by a long 3-pointer from former Heat guard Chris Quinn,

the Nets went on a 19-7 run to close regulation and the teams went

into overtime tied at 78.

By then, the scenarios were simple.

A Miami win, the Heat would get Boston in the first round and

the Nets would lose No. 70.

A Miami loss, and the Heat would see Atlanta for the second

straight year in the opening round.

Bring on Boston.

Miami’s 47 wins rank as the seventh-best total in franchise

history, and the most since the 2005-06 team won 52 on its way to

claiming the NBA championship.

It’s the sixth time in Wade’s seven seasons that the Heat made

the playoffs, something plenty of so-called experts said wouldn’t

happen back when the year began. Proving those critics wrong became

a bit of a rallying cry for Miami this season, especially over the

final seven weeks, when the Heat started playing their best

basketball and climbed out from under the .500 mark.

“The guys in that locker room, they have a lot of pride and

took that personal,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It could

have gone the other way. In January, I think everyone expected us

to break. … This group was unique. We found strength.”

So now, it’s off to Boston – and there will be doubters once

again.

The Heat are 1-11 in their last 12 games against the Celtics,

the one win coming in a game where neither Rajon Rondo nor Kevin

Garnett played and Miami still had to rally in the second half.

Miami went 0-3 against Boston this season, losing by seven, six

and five points. It’s the first time the Heat and Celtics will meet

in the playoffs.

“All three games were competitive,” Spoelstra said. “But it’s

a tough place to play and they are champions, so you have to

respect what they have done.”

Miami finished the season with wins in 18 of its last 22 games;

the Celts lost seven of their final 10 to end the regular

season.

For the Nets, there was just relief that the worst season in

franchise history is over.

“It was not a good year for us,” forward Chris Douglas-Roberts

said, “not at all.”

The first sign of trouble, fittingly, came for New Jersey on

opening night, when the Nets blew a 19-point lead, got outscored

31-15 in the fourth quarter and lost to Minnesota. That was the

first of 18 straight defeats to begin the year, costing coach

Lawrence Frank his job, and the Nets seemed capable of bumping the

1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers out of the record books by losing more

than 73 games.

The only other teams in NBA history to lose 70 games, besides

Philadelphia’s 9-73 club, are Dallas (11-71, 1992-93), Denver

(11-71, 1997-98) and the Los Angeles Clippers (12-70, 1986-87).

Much like the Heat, the Nets expect to have a much different

look next season.

Miami and New Jersey are two of the teams with plenty of

salary-cap room to utilize during the expected free agent bonanza

this summer, and the Nets have made no secret that they are hoping

for immediate upgrades.

They had plenty of chances Wednesday night.

In the end, a season marked by losses ended – naturally – with

another.

“It was an abysmal season,” Harris said. “It was a

disappointing season.”

NOTES: Heat F Quentin Richardson will be in the playoffs for

just the second time in his 10 seasons. He went to the Western

Conference finals with Phoenix in 2005. … New Miami Dolphins wide

receiver Brandon Marshall was at the game, sporting a Florida

Marlins cap. … Quinn and Keyon Dooling, both former Heat players,

spent plenty of time greeting friends before the game.