The Miami Heat missed an opportunity to seal the deal in the Eastern Conference finals last Saturday, as they allowed the Boston Celtics to prolong their stay at Disney World.
Was that a sign that Miami is feeling the pressure right when they are on the cusp of reaching the NBA finals?
Catch this game live on September 28 at 7:30 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #5 Miami Heat (3-2)
As we’ve learned in Game 5, expectations of Tyler Herro should be managed. After exploding for 37 points in Game 4, Herro scored just 14 points in the Heat’s 121-108 loss last Saturday, though, he was still efficient with his 6-of-12 shooting from the field.
But what Miami would like to see in Game 6 more than the Herro putting up a surprise package off the bench is the return of Bam Adebayo’s normal form. Adebayo scored 13 points, dished out eight assists, and grabbed eight rebounds in Game 5, but outside of the dimes, those numbers are below his playoff averages of 17.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
After getting outplayed by Daniel Theis, Adebayo has an extra motivation to turn things around this Monday, as the Heat try to end the series.
If anything, it’s nice for the Heat to see Duncan Robinson score 20 points after chipping in just three points in Game 4. Robinson went just 3-of-11 from downtown, but he’ll have to keep launching those long-range shots, as his value to the team goes beyond his ability to drain them. His presence on the court alone forces Boston to stretch its defense, leaving wide lanes for the likes of Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic to attack.
ROAD TEAM: #3 Boston Celtics (2-3)
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will have to sustain their form in order for the Celtics to survive and force a Game 7. In Game 5, Tatum dropped 31 points, while Brown added 28. Those two are also largely responsible for Boston’s excellent perimeter defense in this series, as Miami has not shot better than 27.3% from behind the arc in any of the last three games. Miami is shooting just 30.1 3FG%, so far in the Eastern Conference finals.
As mentioned above, Theis one-upped Adebayo in the previous game, as the German posted a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three blocks. His rebounding and rim protection are more valuable to the Celtics than his offense, but Theis can continue making Adebayo work on defense after the Miami big man got called for five fouls in Game 5 — the first time in the series that he’s tagged for over four fouls.
Boston is 2-0 in the series when it scores more than 46 points in the paint. The Celtics had 60 points in the shaded area in Game 3 and 56 last Saturday.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown team up again, as they combine for over 50 points in Game 6, while leading Boston’s defense in crippling Miami’s outside shooting again. Boston forces a Game 7 with a 112-105 win.