Celtics vs. Heat Score, takeaways: Jimmy Butler shines as Miami forces a Game 7 with decisive win over Boston


Celtics vs. Heat Score, takeaways: Jimmy Butler shines as Miami forces a Game 7 with decisive win over Boston


The Miami Heat aren’t dead yet. We’ll have a crucial Game 7 in South Beach Sunday night after Jimmy Butler led the Eastern Conference top-seeded team to a crucial 111-103 Game 6 win at TD Garden to end that series to extend and keep their title hopes alive.

Butler was fantastic for Miami when they needed him most as he wrapped up the win with a game-high 47 points, along with nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Butler also had plenty of help as Kyle Lowry turned over one of his best games of the postseason, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and four boards before eventually fouling.


For Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown did everything in their power to lead the Celtics to their first Finals spot since 2010, but in the end it wasn’t enough for the two combined for 50 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists on a shooting one combined 15/25 from the field.

Now let’s enjoy the best that sport can offer on Sunday nights. A game 7.

Here are four key takeaways from the game:

1. Butler has his own LeBron Game 6 moment

Ten years ago, the Celtics won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami, went 3-2 ahead and returned home with a chance to end the game. LeBron James didn’t let that happen as he put together his famous “Game 6” performance and shattered the Celtics’ dreams with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

Butler reprized the role on Friday night.

After not showing up in the last few games, he was absolutely gorgeous in this one. Hitting the lane for powerful finishes and free throws, hard jumpers to beat the shot clock, jumping in the fast lane for steals — he’s done a little bit of everything to keep the Heat season alive.

He ended up finishing with 47 points, which was a playoff career high and the second highest in a playoff game in Heat franchise history, and added nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Butler has had some big nights throughout his career, including in the finals, so it might not be his very best performance, but it’s up there.

2. Miami finally got some shots

In Games 4 and 5, the Heat shot a total of 60 of 184 (32.6 percent) from field and 21 of 81 (25.9 percent) from 3-point land. They looked like they were out of gas and out of answers against an elite Celtics defense and there was little reason to think things would turn in Game 6.

But of course, as the old saying goes: that’s what we play the games for. With Butler taking the lead, another key factor in the Heat’s season-saving win was that they finally got some shots off. They put down 15 3-pointers, their most in a game of the series and the second highest in the entire playoffs, and shot 46.2 percent from the field.

More importantly, they dreamed up every single clutch shot they needed. Barring too much fouling, the Celtics’ defense was again largely impressive. The Heat’s shot-making was simply better. Again and again they hit deep 3s and shot clocking beat jumpers with their hands in the face.

This one by Max Strus was the best of them all.

3. Celtics can’t quite close it

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka summed it up well during his post-game press conference: “We won there, but we’re making it harder for ourselves than it has to be.”

The Celtics came into Game 6 on Friday night with a chance to end the streak and advance to the Finals for the first time since 2010. Instead, they must travel to Miami again for Game 7, where they must win for the third straight game to keep their season alive.

And while Jimmy Butler’s efforts and the Heat’s quick wit shouldn’t be discounted, it once again feels like a victory slipped through the fingers of the Celtics.

Above all, they turned the ball far too often. The very first play of the game was a miss from Jayson Tatum and they ended up with 17 turnovers leading to 23 points for the Heat. Here, too, the formula is very simple: if the Celtics watch the ball, they win. For the playoffs, they are now 1-4 on more than 15 turnovers and 10-12 if they stay at or below that number.

Another classic Celtics problem that surfaced in Game 6 was poor late-game offense. Derrick White hit a 3-pointer with 4:47 remaining to put them 97-94 ahead. They scored just six points the rest of the way, and four of them on the free-throw line. On the final stretch they were 1 of 7 out of the field with two turnovers. As all too often in situations like this, they slowed things down, tried to play isolation basketball and didn’t look their best.

The good news from the Celtics’ perspective is that these are fixable problems and they have shown they can bounce back in the playoffs. They are 5-0 down after one loss, and four of those wins have been in double figures. The bad news is that at 6-0 they need to win a game 7 away which is not an easy task.

4. White’s big night is lost

When the Celtics traded for Derrick White on deadline, there were some who felt the team had given up too much, taking Josh Richardson, their 2022 first-round pick and a 2028 first-round pick swap to the San Antonio Spurs sent. But Brad Stevens made the move because he felt White was giving the team a chance to fight for a title.

So far, Stevens has proven correct in the playoffs. White has risen at numerous points when Marcus Smart was off the lineup through injury, giving them another defensive-minded guard who can handle the ball and get others involved. On Friday night, however, it was White’s goal that stood out.

With the Celtics in dire need of a spark in the fourth quarter, White delivered. He hit two 3-pointers and then drove inside for one and one, which he celebrated with a roar in front of the ecstatic crowd. Later, when the Celtics still wanted to take the lead, he delivered again. First a sharp pass to find Al Horford for a game-winning 3, then another 3 of his own from the corner to put the Celtics ahead.

He finished by far his best game of the playoffs with 22 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals from the bench. Unfortunately, it was lost because the Celtics couldn’t hold the stretch.


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