MIAMI — Ime Udoka, head coach of the Boston Celtics, has said that his team “must to take the harder way at times.”
That is a fact.
The Celtics lost a 17-point lead in the second quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, giving the exhausted Miami Heat optimism that they may still win the series at home.
The Celtics won the series for good this time around, defeating the Heat and Jimmy Butler 100-96 in Game 7 on Sunday. Even though he had a tremendous game, Jimmy Butler squandered a chance to put the Heat up 99-98 with 16.6 seconds left in regulation by missing a 3-pointer.
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics was named the inaugural Larry Bird Trophy East Finals MVP. In the deciding game of the series, he scored 26 points while also pulling down 10 boards, dishing out six assists, blocking two shots, and stealing one.
The Celtics’ incredible resurgence keeps going strong. The team was 18-21 and 11th in the East on January 6.
We had small victories along the way,” Udoka had added earlier in the show. We knew we were good defensively from the start, so we tried to maintain that level of excellence. In an aggressive manner, we attempted to unite and clarify expectations for our team members. At the time, that was the target.
But even in the beginning, there were bright spots. Fluctuating, a little bit erratic. However, we believed that our offence would continue to advance as long as we remained healthy and our defence held up.
For the 22nd time in the franchise’s history and the first time since 2010, the Boston Celtics have reached the NBA Finals. The Celtics will meet the Warriors in an attempt to break a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA’s all-time record of 18 titles.
Thursday in San Francisco is where the NBA Finals begin (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
Jimmy Butler, fresh off a 47-point performance in Game 6, accounted for 24 of Miami’s first 44 points and 17 of their first 30. With the help of 18 points from Butler, the Heat were able to cut a 16-point halftime lead to 55-49.
In this series, the Celtics won three of the four games played in Miami, making them the ninth team since 2016 to win a Game 7 away from home (not including the 2020 bubble). Since Golden State defeated Houston in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Finals, this is the first time a team has won a conference finals series on the road.
Boston’s Big 3 Produces
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart are the Big 3 for Boston, and they accounted for 74 of the team’s 100 points.
Smart and Tatum combined for 13 of Boston’s 18 points in the final period after each scored eight in the first. Brown scored nine in the second and Smart scored nine in the third.
The Celtics’ Defence has been Playing Exceptionally Well.
Boston’s top-ranked defence from the regular season was in full display in Game 7. Without a huge advantage in either turnovers or blocked shots, the Celtics limited the Heat to 42.2% shooting from the field and 20% from beyond the arc.
In Essence, They Contested Shots to Make Scoring More Difficult.
Injured Heat Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro returned to action in Game 7 after missing the previous three contests due to a strained left groyne.
Before the game, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra remarked, “He passed his tests with the trainers.” He has worked really hard over the past few days. His progress has been seen daily; he participated in shootaround this morning and, more importantly, he passed the necessary exams in the training room, so he is now available.
Despite entering the game with 11:37 remaining in the second quarter, he only played for a total of seven minutes and did not contribute to the scoring.