This time, not this time. The Boston Celtics are now on the verge of making it to the NBA Finals for the third time in five seasons.
Again, the beasts of East.
Now, you have a chance to win the NBA title.
Jayson Tatum, Eastern Conference MVP, scored 26 points. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart added 24, and the Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 100 to 96 on Sunday night. They will now face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Smart stated, "This is incredible." "We got over the hump."
This was Boston's first win on a team's home court since beating Milwaukee in 1974 NBA championship. Technically, the Celtics were actually the "road" team that beat Toronto in Game 7 two years back at the restart bubble. But that was at Walt Disney World.
Tatum, wearing a purple and gold armband with the number 24 of Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer), had lost two East finals during his short career. Boston lost the East finals in 2017-2018 and 2020 due to Smart and Brown. This one was quickly slipping away. A frantic Miami run in its final minutes cast doubt on what seemed like a certain win for the Celtics.
They would not give up. Jimmy Butler, again brilliant for Miami, missed a crucial 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining. The Celtics never trailed.
Continue on to San Francisco.
Tatum stated, "To get over this group's hump, it means everything."
The Heat's season finale saw Butler score 47 points in Boston on Friday, leading to Butler scoring 35 points. Bam Adebayo scored 25 points for the Heat who were trailing by 11 with less than three minutes left before rallying.
The Heat were within 98-96 after a 9-0 run that was capped by Max Strus's 3-pointer with 51 seconds remaining. They couldn't get any closer. Boston was not denied and is now 2-0 in Game 7s of these playoffs, having defeated Milwaukee in the East semifinals.
Erik Spoelstra, Heat coach, said that it was just one of those tough moments. It's something you can't plan for. After a game like this, it's the most horrible feeling in the world to go to your locker room.
Kyle Lowry was 15th for the Heat. Grant Williams was 11th for the Celtics.
Two or three months ago, the idea of Boston being finals bound was considered unlikely.
The first season of Ime Udoka as the Celtics' coach was difficult. Boston started with a 2-5 record, but lost to Milwaukee on Christmas Day. The Celtics were below.500 by that time. They also had a losing record until late January.
The Celtics finished 25-25 in 50 games. Since 1981, when the Houston Rockets were 22-28 and reached the title series, no other team had such a record in 50 games.
The Rockets are out of the playoffs and the Celtics are looking to make it one more. The Rockets team reached the playoffs with a score of 40-42. This Celtics team was alive and well down the stretch.
Udoka stated, "Our focus is to get four more."
They finished 26-6 in the final stretch of the regular-season, and showed an amazing ability to bounce back. After losses in the last four-plus month, Boston is now 13-1.
Tatum stated, "The road we took to get there, not a lot people believed in us." We chose the most difficult route. It turned out to be a good choice.
After one quarter, Boston led 32-17 -- the largest lead by a road team in 12 minutes of Game 7. This was four points more than the lead Golden State had over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1977 playoffs.
The tone was set and the lead was never taken away.
Miami finished the half with a 11-2 run. The burst was fueled by 3s by Butler and Strus, and then culminated by four free throws by Lowry in the final 2:29. At the break, Butler had scored 24 points and Miami was within 55-49 of Miami going into the third.
When Strus made a corner three in the third, Miami thought it was within 56-54. The Celtics responded with a 9-1 run. Even worse, the NBA replay center in Secaucus New Jersey decided Strus had stepped outside of bounds. Strus' 3 was removed from the board as the game was progressing. A 56-54 game turned into a 65-52 game.
Butler stated that the Boston Celtics did exactly what they were expected to do in this series.