LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The pre-playoffs have opened for the Miami Heat at the NBA's Disney World bubble.
Monday it was a 107-103 loss to the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors at the Wide World of Sports complex, firmly entrenching the Raptors in the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Tuesday for Erik Spoelstra's team, it's a matchup against the Boston Celtics, who can all but lock up the No. 3 East seed with a victory.
And then Thursday, it's a game against the Milwaukee Bucks, who have spent the season as the No. 1 team in the East.
If nothing else, the Heat showed Monday they were up for challenges, battling back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to a fourth-quarter lead.
"This team has perseverance a grit to them," Spoelstra said.
Ultimately, it was decided late, with a Jae Crowder 3-pointer with 1:15 left drawing the Heat within 102-99. From there, the Heat had a chance to tie it when Goran Dragic was fouled while drawing the Heat within 102-101 with 41.4 seconds to play on a driving layup. But with the Heat 15 of 15 from the line to that stage, Dragic missed the free throw.
Following an inside miss by the Raptors' Kyle Lowry, the Heat called time with 22.7 seconds to play, only to lose the ball out of bounds on a turnover with 17.1 seconds left.
Forced to foul, the Heat sent Raptors center Marc Gasol to the line with 14.9 seconds to play, with Gasol only making the second, leaving the Heat down 103-101.
Another Heat turnover followed, this time with Jimmy Butler attempting for force a pass to Dragic, effectively ending it.