Boston is steering us into uncharted waters with this series game after game. Derrick White’s buzzer-beating tip-in of Marcus Smart’s missed three is just the latest instance of that, sending this series into a game 7 with an unbelievable 104-103 finish.
The Celtics are the fourth team to force a Game 7 after trailing a playoff series 3-0. Other instances:— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 28, 2023
-1951 NBA Finals: Knicks forced Game 7 vs. Rochester Royals
-1994 West Semifinals: Nuggets forced Game 7 vs. Jazz
-2003 West First Round: Blazers forced Game 7 vs. Mavericks
The difference between Boston this year and those other squads is that the Celtics are the first ones to host game 7 after trailing 0-3, although that shouldn’t exactly inspire confidence in Celtics fans. They’re only 5-5 at home in these playoffs and 12-12 in home playoff games since the bubble.
Jimmy Butler had this primed for a six-game conclusion after 47 minutes and 59 seconds. He scored 13 of Miami’s final 15 points, outscoring Boston 13-6 over the final four minutes. His three clutch free throws with 3.0 seconds remaining seemed to give Miami the game, but White decided to be clutch-er.
If the ending wasn’t action-packed enough, the first half had its weirdness as well including a six-minute stretch where Jayson Tatum tallied 14 points, one assist, one steal, and one block. Including the points from his assist, he outscored the Heat 16-11 over those six minutes in the middle part of the second quarter.
The Heat, meanwhile, were being extraordinarily weird, finishing the first half 7-27 on shots inside the paint and 11-20 outside of it. By way of so many short misses, they also had a 9-5 advantage on the offensive glass during the first half with Butler and Bam Adebayo accounting for seven of those.
They had a hard time solving those paint woes in the second half, which hindered the offense from keeping up until Butler’s late push, which was too little too late when considering the tip-in. Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 57 points (0-12 3P) while Butler and Adebayo combined for 35 points.
Brown talked after the game about how “it means nothing if we come and lay an egg on our home floor” in game 7 and how you “don’t measure a man when everything is going well... measure a group when adversity hits.”
These two teams are meeting for a seventh game in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row. The do-or-die finale to this series, now for both teams, is set for Memorial Day night at 8:30 p.m.