For a moment, it seemed like the Miami Heat had managed to once again pull off a dramatic late-game victory. After trailing by 10 points with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter, Jimmy Butler was fouled on a three-point attempt with 3.0 seconds left in the game and calmly sank all three to help the Miami Heat take a 103-102 lead.
The Heat then managed to stop the Boston Celtics from getting Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown the ball in the final possession, which forced Marcus Smart to take a contested three. The basketball gods wanted a Game 7, though, and sent the ball rattling off the rim to Derrick White, who sank the game-winning putback as time expired.
That capped off one of the wildest games of this postseason, while also giving the Celtics a chance to make history as the very first team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs.
Boston were led by Jayson Tatum, who had 31 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. Tatum did most of his damage in the first half, where he had 25 points. He went scoreless in the third quarter but made enough free throws to keep the Celtics in the game whenever the Heat threatened with a comeback. Tatum relentlessly attacked the rim in the first half, one that saw him take and make 11 his free throw attempts. Tatum miss all eight of his attempts from beyond the arc, but was still effective thanks to his focus on the paint.
Jaylen Brown also started hot, making his first five shots in the first quarter to finish the period with 11 points. By the end of the game, he had 26 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. He did this while battling foul trouble, as he had his fourth foul with 9:49 still left in the third quarter. Brown was still incredulous about the final play, clearly happy for the chance to get to win the series at home.
Marcus Smart was also an offensive factor in Game 6, finishing with 21 points while shooting 7 of 15 from the field. Al Horford deserves credit as well, as even though he only had four points, his defense flustered Bam Adebayo for large stretches.
The Celtics took away the Heat’s two biggest threats in Adebayo and Jimmy Butler with aggressive defense in the paint. The two Miami stars shot a combined 9 of 37 from the field, with many of their shots around the rim not falling because Horford and Robert Williams were always ready to challenge or alter their shots.
The series now heads back to Boston, where the Celtics will be big favorites to win the game. The Heat have no quit in them, but they are now in unprecedented territory. They have to win Game 7 away from home, are at least a little bit banged up, and face an opponent that has beaten them three times in a row.
Game 7 will have fireworks and we’ll have to see if the Celtics continue to shut down the Heat’s stars. If so, then we’re in for a mouthwatering final between the Celtics and the Denver Nuggets.