Heat hold off Celtics 103-84 to earn spot in NBA Finals
Jimmy Butler scores 28, Caleb Martin scores 26 to help Miami advance to NBA Finals for second time in 4 seasons
No unprecedented comeback, no last-tick miracle, no cavalcade of higher seeds is going to prevent these Miami Heat from playing for the NBA title.
Eastern Conference finals Most Valuable Player Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, and Caleb Martin had 26 points and 10 rebounds to help the eighth-seeded Miami Heat beat the Celtics 103-84 in Game 7 on Monday night and advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in four seasons.
A year after losing a seventh game to Boston, the Heat recovered from blowing a 3-0 lead in the series and advanced to face the Western Conference champion Nuggets.
Game 1 is in Denver on Thursday night.
"We stayed together as a group. As a team, we talked about going and getting a tough one on the road. We did just that," Butler said. "But we're not satisfied. We're excited. We're happy. But we've got one more to get."
Bam Adebayo scored 12 points with 10 rebounds for Miami, which is the first No. 8 seed to play for a championship since the 1999 New York Knicks. Top-seeded Denver has been waiting since sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers on May 22.
Game 6 hero Derrick White scored 18 for Boston, which was hoping to become the first NBA team ever to advance after falling behind 0-3 in a best-of-seven series. Jaylen Brown scored 19 with eight rebounds but went 1 for 9 from 3-point range and committed eight turnovers.
Jayson Tatum, who scored a Game 7 record 51 points against Philadelphia in the conference semis, had 14 points with 11 rebounds after turning his ankle on the first play of the game and limping through 42 minutes.
The Celtics led by five points early before conceding a 14-4 run to end the first quarter and then giving up 16 of the first 22 points in the second. Boston cut the deficit to seven points late in the third, but Miami took a 76-66 lead at the break and scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to pull away.
Associated Press 2023