Tatum, chosen MVP of the series, Brown and Smart packed the feat: the Celtics beat the Heat 100-96 and will challenge Golden State for the title starting Thursday in San Francisco
This wall was 12 years high. And many disappointments. Boston got through it the hard way, winning the 2010 Game in Miami after losing the first match point at home. And now he’s in the final, playing for the title for the first time since 100. “Finally,” Marcus Smart, one of this team’s heroes, said with a sigh of relief. He is the veteran of a group that seemed discarded in January, and that starting Thursday the Larry O’Brien trophy will be disputed in the Golden State Warriors. The last act of the final phase in the East was worthy of a balanced series, between two battered teams that share the same tricks: the defense and the group. Boston won 96-13, leading from start to finish but losing nearly 35 points. He won thanks to Jayson Tatum, series mvp in the name of Larry Bird (to whom the new trophy for the best in the Eastern finals is dedicated) and Kobe Bryant, the idol who inspired him. Miami capitulated despite Jimmy Butler’s 16 points, on the field the entire game and because of the error in the shot that, XNUMX” from the end, could have changed everything. “I would do it again,” he said, also acquitted by coaches and teammates.
king of the east
The Eastern Champions are a fighting team. “Everything we’ve experienced this year has allowed us to get here,” says Smart. It’s a great result for us: we won a game 7 away from home because we grew as a team. It seems like forever since January, when the Celtics entered 2022 with a losing record, seemingly stuck in a transition season and with two stars Tatum and Brown, the radio market wanted to be close to breaking up. Not only did that not happen, but Boston was transformed: it became the best defense in the NBA, the best team in the East since January, capable of beating Brooklyn, Milwaukee and now Miami in the playoffs. Ime Udoka, who grew up in the shadow of Gregg Popovich and his first year as head coach, struck the right chords. And Boston flourished. “I hate that sometimes we take the hard way to get things done, but we get it done,” says Brown. He, Tatum and Smart together produced 74 points scored almost equally, made a difference on offense, gave Boston what it needed. Like Al Horford, decisive far beyond the 14 rebounds on the game sheet with his leading role and his example. The Celtics beat Miami as a team, with the strength of the group overcoming what was becoming a curse. “We celebrate this milestone because we should be proud of what we have achieved. But that’s not enough for us,” says Tatum. It is a clear message: this group that seemed discarded in January has broken the curse of the finals. And he is not satisfied.
Miami falls after giving battle. Cade convinced himself that we narrowly missed that iron shot from Butler with 16 on the clock. “Jimmy is a superstar,” says Adebayo, with Lowry being the only one to give the Heat’s MVP a helping hand offensively, one of the reasons, along with too many defensive amnesias and a disastrous start, why Miami lost that game. 7. “I didn’t play well enough, I didn’t do my job and we lost,” Butler said. From this series, I learned that I can’t have bad games, but we had enough to win. And we’re going to improve that.” Yes, Miami had enough to win. Injuries are the excuse that no one in the Heat is looking for (he goes for Butler and for Lowry, for Herro and for Tucker), but they are still an alibi. Spoelstra’s men had achieved the feat in Boston in the sixth game with a hat-trick and will: they also had the second in the beautiful, but the shot from outside (6/6) was lost. It’s one of the reasons for the loss, one of the reasons the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the conference will be watching the Finals on television.
Boston’s start is authoritarian (32-17 at the first siren), but Butler becomes unstoppable in the second quarter (18 points) and Miami loses 55-49 at halftime. The Heat are still shorthanded at the start of the comeback, but every time they get close instead of finishing the comeback they make mistakes in what becomes the leitmotif of the comeback. The Celtics stretch again in the fourth quarter, they start 82-75 ahead, they have the game in hand when Smart scores 98-85 from the line with 3’35 to go”. Miami, however, still wants to fight and with a 3-pointer from Strus it makes it 98-96 with an open run of 11-0. Butler runs on the counterattack, but with 16” on the counterattack instead of uncorking penetration, he opts for the triple overflow: the iron says no, Smart on the next possession closes the scoring. And he sends Boston on its date with history.
You love me:Butler 35 (12/20 from two, 1/4 from three, 8/11 from free throws), Adebayo 25, Lowry 15. Rebounds: Adebayo 11. Assists: Adebayo 4.
Boston:Tatum 26 (5/14, 4/7, 4/5 tl), Brown 24, Smart 24. Rebotes: Horford 14. Asistencias: Tatum 6, Brown 6.