NBA: Heat Survive Celtics Comeback, Secure NBA Finals Spot Despite Tense Series Finale

Heat Survive Celtics Comeback, Secure NBA Finals Spot Despite Tense Series Finale

The Heat will now make their second trip to the NBA Finals in four seasons.

The Miami Heat did not have an easy road to the NBA Finals, but they made it there in the end.

The Heat, led by Caleb Martin, defeated the Boston Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night at TD Garden. Martin scored 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting in a decisive victory over the Boston Celtics. As a result, the Celtics’ winning streak was ended, and the Heat avoided being on the losing end of NBA annals.

The Celtics were only the fourth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 playoff series and win in Game 7. In 151 attempts, a team has yet to return from that deficit to win the series. Likewise, the Celtics became only the fourth team to come back from that kind of situation and force a Game 7.

The Heat have qualified for the NBA Finals for the second time in four years.

An Overwhelming Victory for the Heat Over the Celtics, Led by Caleb Martin

The Heat were able to silence the raucous TD Garden crowd early on. They carried a seven-point advantage into halftime after limiting the Celtics to their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season (15 points). In the first quarter, the Celtics shot 0-10 from beyond the arc.

Jayson Tatum twisted his left ankle badly on Boston’s opening possession of the game, compounding the team’s problems. His solitary stay indoors was indicative of the pain in his ankle. In the opening quarter, he kicked a lone field goal.

Although the Celtics sank their first two 3-pointers of the game early in the second quarter, the Heat quickly extended their lead to 17 points. Miami had an 11-point advantage at halftime despite the Celtics’ attempts to close the gap.

In the early going of the 3rd quarter, Celtics guard Derrick White single-handedly led his team to an 8-0 run that brought the deficit back down to single digits for the 1st time since the first quarter. Then, just beyond the quarter’s halfway point, he cut the Heat’s deficit to 8 points with a floater, prompting head coach Erik Spoelstra to take a timeout. For the 1st time in what felt like the entirety of the game, the Celtics appeared to have momentum.

Martin’s Clutch Shots and Butler’s Dominance Propel Heat to Comfortable Victory

But it was Martin who, with less than a minute left in the third, restored a double-digit lead for the Heat with a big 3-pointer and a fadeaway goal from the short corner.

Martin hit a 3-pointer to start the final quarter, and then Butler scored twice in a row. The Heat’s lead ballooned to 17 points after the 7-0 run. Then, after a brief Bam Adebayo surge, the Heat extended their lead to 21 points.

The Celtics’ surge was ended, and the atmosphere inside TD Garden had changed dramatically from the game’s opening minutes. The remainder of the game was a breeze for Miami, as they won by 19 points to go to the NBA Finals for the 1st time since their 2020 elimination game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Butler Shines as Heat Secure Eastern Conference Finals Victory

Jaylen Brown had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead the Celtics, but he also committed a franchise-record eight turnovers in Game 7. Tatum scored 14 points and grabbed 11 boards, and White scored 18 overall. Three of Brown, Tatum, and Marcus Smart’s nineteen three-point attempts were misses.

In the victory, Butler scored 28 points and added 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He finished the series averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game, earning him the title of Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player. Adebayo contributed 12 points, 10 boards, and 7 assists to Miami’s total. In addition to his points, Martin pulled down 10 boards and dished out 3 assists. The Heat had 10 turnovers and 50 percent 3-point shooting.

The play-in tournament was the first stop for the Miami Heat in the playoffs, but they have made it to the NBA Finals, where they will face the Denver Nuggets. Last week, the Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals to advance to their first-ever NBA Finals behind a spectacular playoff performance from Nikola Jokic. On Thursday night, the Nuggets will welcome the Heat to Ball Arena for Game 1 of their series.

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