MIAMI — The Boston Celtics are on the verge of accomplishing something unprecedented in the NBA, an extremely rare feat in the history of major American professional sports.
Behind Derrick White’s stunning response before the buzzer sounded, the Boston Celtics won Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals 104-103, defeating the Miami Heat.
The Celtics came back to tie the series at 3-3 after losing the first three games and could become the first team in NBA history to win a playoff game after losing 3-0.
One hundred and fifty have tried and failed.
“Faith, love, teamwork, physicality, belief, hope, it’s all those things combined,” said Boston coach Joe Mazzola when asked how the Celtics got this far. “But it starts with the changing room. These guys had a choice to make and they chose to believe in each other.”
Only five teams combined in the NHL and MLB, including in 2004, when the Red Sox did so with the Yankees to reach the World Series, have won Game 7 after falling behind by three in the Series.
Historically, Miami isn’t the Celtics’ main rival (hello, Lakers), but the Heat and Boston have faced each other three times in the last four seasons in the Conference Finals. And for the second year in a row, the Celtics-Heat Conference Finals are heading to Game 7.
“That’s the way this season has been,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team is still trying to become the second team to reach the World Cup Finals as the eighth seed. “This is a series of hell. Right now, I don’t know how we’re going to get it done, but we’re going to get up there and get it done. And that’s what the next 48 hours are about.”
No matter what happens in Game 7, which takes place at 8:30 Monday night at the TD Garden, no one on either side will soon forget this series.
Jimmy Butler hit three foul shots with three seconds left to give the Heat a 103-102 lead. Marcus Smart missed a 3-pointer after a timeout, but White, who was the founder on the play, sprinted down the left side of the court while Smart’s shot was airborne, bounced it after hitting the rim and brought it back again with 0.1 seconds remaining – a play that withstood a video review. carried out by officials.
“It all happened so quickly — I couldn’t really tell,” said Jaylen Brown. “I know Smart shot it, and I thought it was good. Then Derek White came, like a flash of lightning, out of nowhere and saved the day, man. It was just an incredible play.”
“It doesn’t do me any good standing in the corner over there, whether he makes it or not, so I’ve been smashing glass, and he’s got me straight,” White said. “It’s going to be a little crazy. My phone is really exploding.”
Jason Tatum led the Celtics with 31 points and 12 rebounds, including 25 in the first half. The Browns added 26 points and 10 boards, and Smart was shining for the second straight game with 21 points.
White, who was included in the starting lineup for Game 4, scored 11. The Celtics haven’t lost since White joined the other starters.
Boston was playing without umpire Malcolm Brogdon, the NBA’s sixth man of the year, who missed the game with a right forearm strain.
Butler suffered one of the worst shooting games he has ever had – in the regular season or playoffs – missing 16 of 21 shots he took. But he scored 13 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the Heat’s last 10 over the final 2:04. Miami is down 10 with 3:51 to go.
Al Horford missed a layup with 3.0 on the clock, and while Butler calmly hit all 3 missed shots, it looked as if he’d found the best compensation, since it was he who missed a wide open 3 near the end of Game 7 in last year’s Eastern Finals against Celtics who could have won that game.
Rather, it was the most bitter defeat.
“Basketball at its best,” said Butler. “We will do the same test until we pass.”
Caleb Martin continued his historic conference finals record with 21 points and 15 boards. In his first start for the series—replacing Spoelstra with Martin in Kevin Love—Martin came into play and averaged 17.6 points off the bench in the series for the fifth-highest by a reserve in Conference Finals history.
Bam Adebayo continued to struggle on offense, shooting 4 of 16 for 11 points. The Heat were shooting an amazing 33-of-93 as a team, in a home game. The Celtics couldn’t escape the game, though, in part because of 7 of 35 from 3-point range. Tatum and Brown were 0 of 12 from deep.
Boston joins the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers, 1994 Denver Nuggets, and 1951 New York Knicks as the only NBA teams to lose 3-0 and even force a Game 7. All those teams obviously lost, but they all played Game 7 on the way.
The Celtics, who are now 5-0 in elimination games this postseason, have played more Game 7s (by far) than any other franchise, and in the Tatum-Brown era, they’ve been 5-1 in Game 7s dating back to 2018. .
And they will be at home. With a chance to write a piece of American history.
“It doesn’t get any worse than being down 0-3,” Brown said. “We feel like we’ve been to hell and back. We feel like we can take on any adversity thrown at us in game duration, season duration or in the postseason. It all means nothing if we don’t go out and do our best on our home floor on a Monday night.”
Crazy ending to the game 6
What a stressful, urgent and desperate game. He led the Celtics in double digits in each half. The Heat cut their way back every time, even while shooting at 35.5 percent from the field for the game. The action looked like a Game 7, as both teams knew the entire season could be on the line.
For the Celtics, it was actually their season. And they choose the most interesting way to expand it. They all lost a double-digit lead late in the fourth quarter.
After Mazzulla’s review of the replay gave Butler a chance to put Miami ahead, not just tie the game, White returned that clever miss to the buzzer to force a Game 7.
That ending couldn’t be more insane. – king
White saves the Celtics
The Celtics failed to pull off a big win to save their season, and then somehow White saved them. White always finds a way to be in the right place at the right time while making play faster than anyone can.
Most of the time, there’s a suspense when the retraction goes up just before the bell, but you know right away that White will get it out just in time. He sneaks into every crevice of the game to make plays at the right time and he literally saved the Celtics’ season from dying. – Weiss
Unreasonable heat return is not enough
Miami can definitely move on to the NBA Finals now. We’ll see if the way they’ve played over the past three minutes affects them on their way to Game 7.
Up until that point, Butler and Adebayo had been very poor. They shot a combined 9 of 37 from the field. Butler appeared momentarily, with a flat shot, and Adebayo was holding the ball so wide off the edge that he couldn’t get around Al Horford.
Shooting 33-of-93 from the field, at home, in an elimination game, is amazing. But it happened, and now Heat will have to stop this avalanche coming from the top of the road. – Vardon
Highlight of the game
(Photo: Mike Ehrman/Getty Images)