Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, and Caleb Martin added 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat upset the Boston Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Monday night. Boston made a heroic comeback attempt, but they lost in the end.
The Heat came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the game and advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in four years. The series opener is set for Thursday night in Denver against the Western Conference champion Nuggets.
Since the New York Knicks in 1999, the Miami Heat are the only No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals. Bam Adebayo scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Heat in scoring. Denver has been holding their breath since May 22, when they swept the higher-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in four games.
Butler was named the series’ Most Valuable Player after the Eastern Conference Finals. In addition, Larry Bird, a legend with the Celtics, is honored with this trophy bearing his name.
Sixth-Game Hero Derrick White scored 18 points for Boston as they tried to become the first team in NBA history to come back from being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven series. Despite scoring 19 points and grabbing 8 boards, Jaylen Brown made just 1 of his nine 3-point tries.
Jayson Tatum twisted his ankle on the first play of the game and played the remaining 42 minutes on a limp, accumulating 14 points and 11 rebounds. In the conference semifinals versus Philadelphia, Tatum scored 51 points, which was a new record for a Game 7.
Despite taking an early 5-point lead, the Celtics immediately gave it up, allowing a 14-4 surge to end the first quarter and 16 of the first 22 points of the second. Though Boston got within seven points late in the third quarter, Miami carried a 76-66 lead into the locker room and opened the fourth quarter with seven unanswered points to regain a comfortable margin.
Jimmy Butler Leads Miami Heat’s Epic Comeback against Celtics
The Heat just needed to win one more game after taking the first three in the series, including two in Boston on the road. All 150 NBA playoff teams who have ever gone up 3-0 in a series have gone on to win the series.
However, the Celtics watched a documentary about the Boston Red Sox’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 World Series in order to get fired up for the game. The Red Sox won the World Series because of this comeback. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, both former New York Yankees, watched Game 4 of the series between the Celtics and the Heat from courtside seats in Miami.
Miami launched a comeback, and with three seconds remaining in Game 6, they seized the lead by one point, having lost Games 4 and 5 by double digits. White scored on a putback in the final tenth of a second to send the match into a deciding seventh game. The Heat appeared to have won the game after Marcus Smart’s last-second three-point effort missed the mark.
When the Celtics returned to Boston, they presented a pregame film featuring clips from their comeback and the Red Sox’s victory. In addition, Kevin Millar, the impetus behind the 2004 Red Sox, recorded a message to the fans to get them excited.
The much favored Celtics, however, were unable to repeat their earlier miracle.
Butler & Martin Lead Heat’s Game 7 Triumph
Jimmy Butler (28 pts) & Caleb Martin (26 pts, 10 reb) fueled Miami Heat’s 103-84 upset over Boston Celtics. Heat’s comeback from 3-0 deficit secures NBA Finals spot. Historic achievement as No. 8 seed. Butler named MVP. Celtics’ hopes dashed. Exciting Finals ahead vs. Nuggets.