Celtics-Heat result, takeaways: Boston survives Miami rally and heads to NBA Finals after wire-to-wire Game 7 win


Celtics-Heat result, takeaways: Boston survives Miami rally and heads to NBA Finals after wire-to-wire Game 7 win

The Boston Celtics are returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 after beating the Miami Heat 100-96 on the road in Game 7 on Sunday night. Jayson Tatum led by 26 points, and Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart each added 24 points as the Celtics played the Golden State Warriors for the championship beginning in Game 1 Thursday in San Francisco.

The Celtics ran wire to wire, reacting every time the Heat went on a run. Miami went in late and reduced the deficit to two points, but Boston managed to hold onto the win. Jimmy Butler did most of the offensive work for Miami, finishing the entire game with 35 points. But Butler alone couldn’t make it for the Heat No. 1.

With Boston’s win, Ime Udoka becomes the first rookie head coach in NBA history to win multiple Game 7s; Boston beat the Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 earlier in the East Semis.

Here are three takeaways from Boston’s Game 7 win over Miami.

1. Tatum and Brown and Smart, oh my god

Tatum and Brown live for Game 7s. You do not believe me? Here’s a statistic that will blow your mind. With Sunday night’s win, Tatum now improves to a 4-1 record in Game 7 while Brown now has a 5-1 record in Game 7. So it’s safe to say that these guys shine when the lights are at their brightest. Tonight was no different as Brown and Tatum combined for 50 points. Throw in Smart’s 24 points and it’s pretty easy to see why the Celtics won this game. From the opening tip you could tell the Celtics wanted to be aggressive and while the Heat scared Boston in the final minutes of the game, it was because of performances from Tatum, Brown and Smart that gave the C’s the win.

It’s exactly the kind of performance you’d expect from your key players in a win-or-go home contest, and the stars were out for Boston. But not only the goal was impressive from all three players. It was Smart and Brown’s defense to Butler for not biting his pump fake and capping everyone else’s contributions on the Heat. It was Tatum’s playmaking, a vastly improved ability we’ve seen from him this season, that led to Boston opening 3-pointers in the corners. You could see how all the improvements these core guys have been working on over the years pay off tonight in the biggest game of their careers, and it happened to result in an NBA Finals berth.

2. Jimmy against everyone

Butler played the full 48 minutes and he gave it his all to try and lead the Heat to victory. I feel like Butler playing the whole game will probably be overlooked but I don’t think there are very many players in this league who could do what he did tonight. What’s even crazier, he made it look easy. Butler looked just as sprightly in the final minutes of the game as he did in the opening tip, and to add icing to this insane sundae, he’s also dealing with a nagging knee injury.

Butler was masterful in his Game 7 performance. He essentially got to the free-throw line whenever he wanted as Boston struggled to contain him for the second game in a row. He struggled for rebounds, loose balls, and played Jimmy Butler basketball all night without a single break that was longer than a time-out.

Unfortunately, Butler’s performance fell short as he received minimal help outside of Bam Adebayo’s 25 points. Lowry also grabbed 15 points but it really felt like the Butler show tonight and that’s ultimately why The Heat lost the game. That’s not entirely surprising given that Miami has been cooling off over the course of this series, and when Tyler Herro is trying to comeback after missing three games and only playing six minutes, you’re kind of at a disadvantage. Aside from Herro, Max Strus’ shooting battles also continued, and while he knocked down a crucial 3-pointer late in the game to reduce Boston’s lead to just two points, he finished the night with a 2 for 7 on 3-pointers .

3. Al Horford finally gets a shot at a title

Horford held the record for most playoff games (141) played without reaching the NBA Finals. But with Boston’s win tonight, that streak is over and the veteran forward will have his first shot at a championship. Horford has made the playoffs 13 times in his 15-year career and has reached the conference finals three times before — once with Atlanta and twice with Boston — but has come up short each time. But after years of failing to reach that point, Horford will have his first, and perhaps best, shot at a ring.

Although the Celtics will take on the Warriors, who are going to be favorites to win, this isn’t the same Golden State team from a few years ago that was an embarrassing team every night. While the Warriors quickly finished off the Dallas Mavericks in the West Finals, the Celtics will present a far tougher matchup for the Warriors in the Finals. Horford will play a crucial role if he tries to make life difficult for the Warriors on defense, and if he continues to put down 3s with a high clip like he’s been doing all postseason (45.6 percent), then he will will Boston make it good place to win a title for the first time since 2008.

You May Also Like