“NBA”: The last breath match imposes a seventh confrontation between Boston and Miami
The Boston Celtics imposed a seventh match in the Eastern Conference Final when they achieved a dramatic victory in their final breaths over the Miami Heat 104-103 thanks to a shot from Derek White, to tie them 3-3 in their series of confrontations to reach the NBA Finals.
The Celtics became the fourth team in the history of the NBA to tie the playoff series after trailing 3-0.
On Monday, they will have a chance to score an even more impressive feat, if they can become the first team to win a series after losing their first three games, and book a spot in the Final against the Denver Nuggets.
The loss was fatal for Miami, which was less than a second away from reaching its seventh final, had it not been for White’s last basket.
The Celtics had the better game, but Miami came close to clinching the win and clinching the series when Al Horford’s Jimmy Butler was fouled on a three-point shot.
With three seconds left in the game, Butler, who had been under-par until he showed up late in the fourth quarter, held his nerve to score on the three free throws and give the Heat a 103-102 lead.
And while the elimination seemed decided for Boston, a triple attempt from Marcus Smart hit the edge of the basket, but White was alert and strong to pick up the ball and score it a split second before the end of the match bell.
Miami fans were stunned when the Celtics celebrated with a crowd of their fans on the field.
“The ball came to me,” White said after the dramatic win. This is what I saw.” He added, “It was a good feeling.”
He continued, “I am happy that we won. Whatever it takes. We put our backs against the wall. We are just happy that we won.”
As for Miami coach Eric Spolstra, he said, “This thing bounced back in a different way. This is the only place he could have bounced back to hurt us. I thought we had a lot of things covered in this match, and sometimes things don’t go your way.
Boston’s best scorer was Jason Tatum with 31 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Butler entered the fourth quarter with only nine points, but finished with 24 points, while Caleb Martin provided 21 points for Miami.
The Celtics led by 11 points midway through the second quarter, as Miami struggled on both ends of the field, but the Heat rallied to cut the lead to 57-53 at halftime.
Boston opened up a ten-point lead at least in the third quarter, but once again Miami couldn’t stop it, and the Heat found its way to snatch the lead 83-82 with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Celtics responded strongly, scoring 16-5, before the late drama began to set in, as Butler scored 10 points to give Miami the lead with three seconds left.
Butler spoke philosophically about the state of defeat, saying, “This is basketball for us. Basketball at its best. Very, very, very, very entertaining.”
He added, “We can do that. I know we will. We have to play away from home and win in a very difficult environment. But we can. So let’s work.’