Jimmy Butler’s Heat Win Game 7 vs. Celtics, Advance To NBA Finals

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Miami Heat continue to trek on in pursuit of an NBA title as the eight seed in the Eastern Conference.

In Monday night’s 103-84 victory over Boston, the eighth-seeded Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the second time in four seasons with Eastern Conference Finals MVP Jimmy Butler totaling 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals. He received a big boost from Caleb Martin, who contributed 26 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 11-16 from the floor.

“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.”

The Miami Heat are the first No. 8 seed since the New York Knicks in 1999 to reach the NBA Finals. In order to even get started on their playoff journey, the Heat had to overcome losing to the Atlanta Hawks in their play-in opener. The bounce-back began by defeating the Chicago Bulls in a second-chance play-in. Following that, Miami eliminated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games and the fifth-seeded New York Knicks in six games.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

After winning the first three games of the series, the Heat’s incredible path nearly became an infamous failure. They had established a 3-0 series lead but lost three consecutive games — setting possibly allowing the first 3-0 series comeback. The feat had never been done in 151 attempts.

“Sometimes you have to suffer for the things that you really want,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This group has shown fortitude, when there are inevitable letdowns and failures, to have that perseverance to pick yourself up, to have that collective spirit to keep on forging ahead until you get to accomplish what you want to.”

After turning his ankle on the game’s first play and being limited for his 42 minutes of action, Jayson Tatum was contained to 14 points with 11 rebounds. He set a Game 7 record with 51 points against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Jaylen Brown failed to step up after being limited to 19 points and shooting 8-23 from the floor and 1-9 from deep, but committed eight turnovers.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

“The hole we put ourselves in, it’s hard. No one’s climbed out of that hole,” Malcolm Brogdon said. “It was the same tonight: We couldn’t climb out of the hole we created.

“I thought we showed how resilient we were, how good of a team we are, climbing out of it partially. But not being able to finish it on your home floor? That’s super disappointing.”

In the first quarter, the Celtics held an early five-point lead after Brown’s layup at 8:04. Boston gave up a 14-4 run while being limited to 15 points in the period. Miami never lost its lead throughout the game. The Heat continued to pour it on by scoring 16 of the game’s 22 points in the second quarter. This established a 38-21 lead with 7:32 left in the half.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

The closest the Celtics came was 71-64 with 52.1 seconds left in the third quarter after Tatum converted a pair of free throws. The Heat led 76-66 entering the final period and used a 7-0 run right out of the gate to go back up by 17. Boston never recovered after Tatum missed a layup to open the period, then Brown turned it over twice. Meanwhile, Martin made a 3-pointer, while Butler scored twice. Miami gained key plays from its top contributors while the Celtics’ faltered.

“We failed. I failed and we let the whole city down,” Brown said. “In spite of whatever circumstance we had this year we rose to the occasion. We got to this point and we came up short.”

Miami rallied back to take a one-point lead with 3 seconds left in Game 6 after Boston won Games 4 and 5 by double digits. Had the Heat held on to win, they wouldn’t have needed to play a Game 7. Instead, a tough 3-point attempt from Marcus Smart rimmed out, but Derrick White became a playoff hero by successfully following up the miss for a game-winning putback at the buzzer.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

Overcoming three straight losses would be required for the Heat to avenge their eliminated by the Celtics in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Miami played with a significant sense of urgency to get it done, while Boston was lackadaisical.

“Last year was extremely painful,” Spoelstra said. “We thought about it all season long. And if you don’t have an opponent like that to bring you to a different level, sometimes you don’t get there.”

The Heat will face the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

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