We got an absolute classic on Saturday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.
Jimmy Butler, who was 5/21 from the field but finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, was fouled by Al Horford, shooting a three. Butler would make all three free throws with 3.0 seconds to go, which gave the Celtics enough time. Boston’s Marcus Smart would miss a three, Derrick White would tip it in at the buzzer, and Boston would defeat the Heat 104-103 in Miami to even the series at three.
After being down 3-0, the Celtics have forced a Game 7 on Monday night back in Boston and could be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 deficit. Last season, the Celtics defeated the Heat in the conference finals in Game 7 in Miami.
According to Butler, if he had played better, the Heat would have finished the series.
“Like I told the guys on the bench, I told the guys in the locker room, that if I play better, we’re not even in this position, honestly speaking,” Butler said after the loss. “And I will be better. That’s what makes me smile because those guys follow my lead. So when I’m playing better, I think we’re playing better as a whole.”
Butler knows the Heat must find a way to get through the Celtics.
“I think, I believe, as we all do like you’re going to get the same test until you pass it, I swear,” he said. “We were in this same position last year. We can do it. I know that we will do it. We’ve got to go on the road and win in a very, very, very tough environment. But we are capable of it. So let’s get busy.”
Miami won the first two games of this series and has proven they can succeed in Boston, and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is confident in his guys.
“This is one hell of a series,” he said. “At this time right now, I don’t know how we are going to get this done, but we are going up there and get it done. And that’s what the next 48 hours is about.”
Boston is 5-0 in these playoffs in elimination games and defeated the 76ers in Game 7 in the second round. This is a battled-tested group that has “unfinished business.”
It will be tough for the Heat to win after such a deflating loss, but as Spoelstra said, Miami will have to get it done.
After three games in the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat led the series 3-0 and were on the verge of what appeared to be a sweep. However, the Celtics fought back in the second half of Game 4 in Miami and kept the series alive.
On Thursday night in Game 5 in Boston, the Celtics led from start to finish and defeated the Heat 110-97.
Boston, who led by as many as 24 points, had four players score at least 20 or more. Derrick White led the way with 24 points, Marcus Smart had 23, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown added 21 points a piece.
The series shifts back to Miami for Game 6 on Saturday, and Jimmy Butler, who had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, believes the Heat will end the series in Miami.
“We’ve just got to play better,” Butler said. “Start the game off better on the starters; make it more difficult for them. They are in a rhythm since the beginning of the game. But we are always going to stay positive, knowing that we can, and we will win this series. We’ll just have to close it out at home.”
Butler explained why he has so much confidence.
“Because the last two games are not who we are,” he said. “It just happened to be that way. We stopped playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make. But that’s easily correctable. You just have to come out and play harder from the jump. Like I always say, it’s going to be all smiles, and we are going to keep it very, very, very consistent, knowing that we are going to win next game.”
On paper, the Celtics are the better team. In the first two games, the Celtics were close but could not close it out. In Game 3, Boston was terrible, and now they may have righted the ship.
We’ll see what happens in Game 6.
The Boston Celtics have lived to see another day after defeating the Miami Heat 116-99 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Celtics avoid the sweep and trail the Heat 3-1. Game 5 is Thursday night back in Boston.
Jaylen Brown, who had 17 points, said the team wanted to show some pride in Game 4, and he credited the leadership of Marcus Smart.
“We didn’t want to come out and lay an egg,” Brown said. “We wanted to come out and play together, wanted to come out and trust each other, come out and play some defense, have some pride about yourself, and find a way to win a game. We’re all more than capable of doing it. So, tonight we got it done. Smart was in my ear, letting me know where the game is at. Just keep being aggressive; keep making the right plays.
“It ain’t always got to be you putting the ball in the basket; that helped us win tonight. So just continue to make the right plays, and the game will open up for you, and that’s what Smart does is just being a leader, be vocal, and we found a way to win.”
Smart, who had 11 points, says Boston has to take it one game at a time.
“Now we’ve just got to go win another one,” he said. “That’s all that matters. We take it one game at a time. We understand the odds are stacked against us, but we’re a team that believes in us no matter what, and we’ve just got to keep going, and all that matters is the next game.”
Boston does not win Game 4 without the play of Jayson Tatum. The four-time All-Star scored 25 of his 33 points in the second half. In addition, he added 11 rebounds and seven assists. Like Smart, he’s just taking it one game at a time.
“We just tried to take it one game at a time,” Tatum said. “We tried to break it down. We didn’t play well the first three games, we didn’t deserve to win, but we didn’t want that to define us, define the season. We’ve still got a long uphill battle to go. But tonight was a good start. Just to try to carry this momentum towards Thursday.”
If Boston can win Game 5, this series becomes interesting. The Celtics are a tough-minded and resilient bunch; they don’t give up or give in very easily.
Can they be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit?
They have a shot because they have homecourt advantage, so if the Celtics can somehow get the series back to Boston for a Game 7, anything is possible, but, as they said, the Celtics have to take it one game at a time.
On Monday night, the Cavs hosted the Boston Celtics, and just like two other games this season against Boston, the game went into overtime, and like those other two games, the Cavs came out on top.
Cleveland(41-26) overcame a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Celtics 118-114 in OT at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
With the win, the Cavs won the season series (3-1) against the Celtics. Boston(45-21), who was on the second half of a back-to-back after falling to the Knicks on Sunday, was without Jayson Tatum(knee) and Al Horford(back).
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Celtics.
Donovan Mitchell did not shoot(14/34 FG) well, but he did have a game-high 40 points and grabbed a season-high tying 11 rebounds and four assists. Mitchell was relentless! He gave the Cavs their first lead since the first quarter with 24.7 to go in regulation, and Mitchell made the game-tying free throws that sent the game to OT.
Evan Mobley did Evan Mobley-type things. He scored 25 points, had a game-high 17 rebounds, and three blocks. This was Mobley’s third straight double-double and his 20th double-double of the season.
Darius Garland, like Mitchell and Mobley, Garland had a double-double with 17 points, five rebounds, and 12 assists.
Lamar Stevens was great!! In only 17 minutes of action, Stevens had eight points and eight rebounds(career-high six offensive rebounds; five of the offensive rebounds came in the fourth). Additionally, he gave Cleveland the lead for good when he made a corner three in OT to make it 114-112 with just over two minutes to go. They don’t win without Stevens.
Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed 92-78 heading into the fourth, and after playing sluggish throughout, the Cavs finally woke up. Cleveland outscored Boston 31-17 in the final stanza, holding Boston to 25% shooting from the field.
They also got a little help from Grant Williams. With 0.8 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 109, Williams had an opportunity to win the game for Boston, but he missed both free throws, and the Cavs had life!
Not So Great:
The first three quarters were awful, and they did have 15 turnovers, but we’ll cut the Cavs some slack today.
This would have been a bad loss because of what Boston was missing, but it turned out to be a good for the Cavs. One thing about this team is they don’t quit. In fact, this was Cleveland’s 13th victory when trailing by 10 points or more, so again, they don’t quit.
The reason they don’t quit is Mitchell. He has a never say die attitude, and he willed this team to victory, and with the way the fifth-seeded Knicks(9 straight wins) are playing, the fourth-seeded Cavs have little margin for error.
Cleveland begins a four-game road trip on Wednesday night with two games in Miami against the Heat, and they finish it off with two games in Charlotte against the Hornets.
Best of the Rest:
-Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and a season-high nine assists. Malcolm Brogdon had 24 points off the bench.
-Cleveland is 7-0 in OT games this season.
-According to Elias Sports, the Cavs have never had three overtime wins against a single opponent in the same season until this season (3 OT wins vs. Boston).
On Wednesday night, the Cavs(39-26) headed to Boston to battle the Celtics(45-18).
The game was close in first half, but Boston exploded in the third and survived a furious rally from the Cavs in the fourth to win 117-113.
Cleveland has now lost four of five, while the Celtics have won four of five. Boston beat Cleveland for the time in three matchups this season.
The two teams will meet again in Cleveland for the final time this season on Monday night.
Here’s The Great, Not So Great, and The Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss over Boston.
Donovan Mitchell left it all on the court against the Celtics. In 44 minutes of action, he scored 29 of his game-high 44 points in the second half. He was 17/32 from the floor and made four threes. Mitchell tried his best to secure the win, but his best was not good enough.
Mitchell, who played 23 of a possible 24 minutes in the second half, added four rebounds and five assists.
Darius Garland had a good night for the Cavs. He finished with 29 points(11/19 FG, 5/9 3-PT FG) and nine assists. Garland made things interesting down the stretch, scoring 15 points in the fourth.
The Cavs’ backcourt scored 73 of the team’s 113 points.
Not So Great:
Third Quarter: The Celtics led 55-52 at halftime, but the Celtics took over in the third. Boston started the third on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 62-52, and they went on a 19-9 run to push their lead to 20. Boston had their largest lead of 21 and outscored the Cavs 41-26 in the third.
Jayson Tatum scored 18 of his 41 points in the quarter, and the Celtics shot 61% from the field and were 6/7 from deep.
Boston took a 96-78 lead into the fourth.
Free Throw Shooting: Cleveland shot 13/21(62%) from the charity stripe. They have to be better at the line.
Bench: Cleveland has to get more from its bench. The Cavs got only 14 points off the bench against the Celtics. Currently, the Cavs are 28th in the NBA in bench points.
They will need to get more from the second unit going forward.
There is no shame in losing to the Celtics, especially in Boston, where they are 25-7. However, at this point, Cleveland may have to concern themselves with the fifth-seeded Knicks(37-27), who moved to 1.5 gamed behind the Cavs and have won seven straight. The Cavs do play the Knicks one more time at the end of March, and that game could mean a lot for both teams.
Cleveland returns home to face the Pistons on Friday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Evan Mobley had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
-All five Boston starters scored in double figures. Al Horford had 23 points, including six threes and 11 rebounds; Robert Williams III added 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Tatum added 11 rebounds and eight assists.
-Mitchell scored 40-plus points for the seventh time this season.
Coming into Thursday’s game against the visiting Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks(22-17) had won seven straight and were on a roll. However, six of the seven teams they played were below .500, so the Celtics(27-12), who have the best record in the NBA, was going to be a test for the Mavericks, and a test Dallas would fail.
Boston led by as many as 30 and dominated and routed the Celtics 124-95.
Luka Doncic, who was recently named Western Conference Player of the Month, led the Mavs with 23 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, but his shot was off(7/23 FG), and he appeared under the weather.
After the game, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was asked about Doncic’s health.
“He looked like himself out there,” Kidd said. “He just missed some shots. He had some good looks. They just didn’t go down. I don’t know about his health. I know he did leave at one point, but I don’t know what the cause of that was.”
The Mavericks did not play well defensively, as Boston had two 30-plus point quarters. In addition, they struggled from the field as they shot 38% from the floor. Spencer Dinwiddie, who had 18 points and five assists, said poor defense and shooting cost the Mavericks.
“I mean, obviously, they put up 124 points, which is never good, and the lack of defense,” Dinwiddie said. “The lack of shooting is one thing. It can ebb and flow sometimes. Obviously, the Celtics are one of the best teams in the league at the moment, record-wise, and they were in the Finals last year. They deserve a lot of credit, but we have to bring it on the defensive end and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Kidd gave all the credit to the Celtics, including Jayson Tatum, who had his second career triple-double with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists.
“We just lost to the best team in the league,” Kidd said. “Look and see how they played and how the ball was shared. They executed their game plan. They did a lot of things. They got to the Finals last year [and] have a new coach. Their ability if things aren’t going well, their two stars aren’t going well in the first half [and] that’s a team game. I understand Jayson [Tatum] has a triple-double, which is pretty cool. Got his average, got 13 points there in the fourth quarter. I thought we did a really good job of keeping those guys [in check] and trying to show them multiple bodies, but they were unselfish tonight, and their teammates knocked down a lot of threes for them.”
Dallas continues to be shorthanded; they again were missing Dorian Finney-Smith(Adductor), Maxi Kleber(Hamstring), and Josh Green(Elbow), but according to Dinwiddie, that’s no excuse when you have Doncic.
“We’ve got to do our job,” Dinwiddie said. “We can’t just be making excuses. Anytime you’ve got the best player in the world on the floor, you’ve got a chance to win. 2 through 10 that night [have] just got to do their job.”
Dallas has another good team coming to their building in the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, so they must flush this one away and move forward.
The Cleveland Cavaliers got some great news on Wednesday before battling the Celtics as All-Star Darius Garland was back in the lineup after missing five games with an eye injury.
Garland and his backcourt mate Donovan Mitchell combined for 54 points on Wednesday night, but the Celtics had a shot at winning it in OT; however, Jaylen Brown’s jump shot at the buzzer was just off, and the Cavs defeated the Celtics again 114-113 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Cleveland has now won six straight.
Like last Friday’s game, where the Cavs beat the Celtics 132-123 in OT in Boston, this was a back-and-forth affair, but as they did in Boston, Cleveland made the plays when it mattered the most.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Celtics.
Donovan Mitchell did not shoot it well(11-27) but came up big when it mattered most, as he scored 11 of his 25 points in the final two and half minutes of regulation and overtime. In addition, Mitchell added six assists.
Darius Garland is back, and he balled out with 29 points, 12 assists, and three steals. He had 14 first-quarter points, which is the most he’s had in a first quarter in his career. Garland also recorded his 200th career steal on Wednesday night.
Jarrett Allen had his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. Also, Evan Mobley was efficient with 15 points on 7/8 shooting and seven rebounds.
Third Quarter: The Celtics led 56-50 at halftime, but Cleveland turned it on in the third. The Cavs, who trailed 66-54 with just over nine minutes in the third, closed the quarter on a 29-10 run to lead 83-76 going into the final quarter. Cleveland outscored the Celtics 33-20 in the quarter and held them to 29% shooting from the field.
Not so Great:
Second Quarter: After a great start where the Cavs led 35-27 after the first quarter, Cleveland struggled in the second quarter. They shot 25% from the field and were outscored 29-15 in the quarter.
This win for the Cavs against the Celtics was more significant than their win in Boston on Friday because it’s hard to beat a team as good as the Celtics twice in less than a week. In addition, they made big plays down the stretch and won both games in a similar fashion. It’s great to have Garland back in the lineup. With Garland and Mitchell, the Cavs have two guys they can count on late in games, which should serve this team well throughout the season.
Cleveland will begin a five-game road trip on Friday when they battle the Pistons. After Detroit, they battle the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Warriors.
Best of the Rest:
Cleveland starting five all scored in double figures.
For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown had 30 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and Jayson Tatum added 26 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
Cleveland is 3-0 in OT this season.
Garland received the “Junkyard Dog” award after returning from injury and balling out on Wednesday night.
What a game!! The Cavs went into Boston and defeated the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Celtics, 132-123 in OT on Friday night.
This was a back-and-forth affair as the Cavs(4-1) led by as many as 13 in the first quarter, and the Celtics(3-2) led by as many as 15 in the second. Cleveland had their first lead since the second quarter in the third, and the two teams battled from there.
They would go to OT, and the Cavs outscored the Celtics 18-9 in the quarter to get their fourth straight win.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs big win in Boston.
The Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert Show: Both LeVert and Mitchell had 41 points. LeVert added four rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and made six threes, while Mitchell added four rebounds, three assists, and five threes. LeVert had 11 points in OT, and Mitchell added five.
According to the team, the last time the Cavs had two 40-point scorers was in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals(LeBron James & Kyrie Irving). In addition, the Cavs starting backcourt combined for 82 points, which is the most scored by a Cavs backcourt in a regular season game in team history.
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen both had double-doubles: Mobley had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks, while Allen had his third straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Third Quarter: The Cavs trailed 75-62 at halftime. In the third quarter, they got themselves back into the game. Cleveland outscored the Celtics 33-24 in the quarter. The Cavs shot 64% from the field and took their first lead since the second quarter. However, Boston took a 99-95 lead into the fourth.
OT: Cleveland outscored the Celtics 18-9 in the OT, and they shot 71% from the floor. LeVert and Mitchell had 16 of the team’s 18 points in the quarter.
Three-point shooting: Cleveland shot 16/35(.457) from deep. The two stars of the game, Mitchell and LeVert, made 11 of those 16 threes.
Not So Great:
It’s all great when you defeat the Celtics in Boston.
There are no statement wins in November. Again, there are no statement wins in November, but this comes pretty close for the Cavs. Without Darius Garland(eye), who is arguably their best player, Cleveland got big performances from Mitchell and LeVert. These types of games are why you acquired LeVert and Mitchell. LeVert is a walking bucket, and Mitchell is the same. Great win, but the two teams will have the rematch next Wednesday in Cleveland, which should be interesting.
The Cavs return home to battle the New York Knicks on Sunday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Best of the Rest:
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led Boston with 32 points apiece.
Cavs’ Milestones: Allen surpassed 4,000 career points, and Mitchell made his 3,000th career field goal Friday night.
LeVert, with his big 41-point performance, got the “Junkyard Dog” award. Ironically, LeVert had his career-high of 51 points against the Celtics while he was with the Nets back in 2020.
The Boston Celtics fed off their crowd and came out with a lot of energy in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Jaylen Brown had 22 of his 27 points in the first half, nine rebounds, and five assists; Jayson Tatum added 26 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, and Marcus Smart chipped in with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists as Boston defeated the Warriors 116-100 at TD Garden to take a 2-1 series lead.
Game 4 is Friday night in Boston.
The Celtics had their largest lead of 18 points in the first half and led 68-56 at halftime. However, in the third quarter, the Warriors went on a 25-10 run to take their first lead since the first quarter as Steph Curry(15) and Klay Thompson(10) combined for 25 points in the quarter, but things fell apart for the Warriors in the fourth.
The Warriors were outscored 23-11 in the fourth as they shot 33% from the floor and 1/9 from downtown. The Celtics went on a 17-7 run to take a 14-point lead, taking complete control from there.
Curry, who had a game-high 31 points, including six threes, said the first quarter, where the Warriors trailed 33-22 after one, and the first few minutes of the fourth sunk the Warriors.
“That first two or three minutes kind of set the tone for the rest of the fourth and gave them a little bit of a cushion,” Curry said. “We had a hard time responding after that. So between the first three minutes of the fourth and the first 12 minutes of the game, that was pretty much it.”
Things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as Curry’s leg was rolled up on late in the fourth. Curry would remain in the game until he was removed along with the rest of the starters.
According to Curry, who missed 12 games in the regular season after injuring his foot against the Celtics in March, he should be fine.
“I’ll be all right,” he said. “I got caught — obviously in some pain, but I’ll be all right. See how it feels tomorrow and get ready for Friday…
“Same thing I did in Denver — or against Boston in the regular season, but I’ll be — not as bad.”
If the Warriors don’t have Curry, they won’t win this series. It’s that simple. Hopefully, for the Warriors, the NBA, and the fans, Curry will be ready to go in Game 4.
Draymond Green, who was public enemy number one in Boston, was not very good Wednesday night as he had two points, four rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes of action. Green would foul out in the fourth.
According to StatMuse, Green has as many fouls as points, more techs than threes, and more turnovers than baskets.
When asked how he played in Game 3, Green said: “Like sh**.”
For three quarters, the Boston Celtics struggled to find their way in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors. The Celtics trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half and trailed 92-80, heading into the fourth.
However, the Celtics exploded in the fourth. Al Horford scored 11 of his 26 points in the quarter; Jaylen Brown poured in 10 of his 24 points, and Derrick White added 13 of 21 points in the second half as Boston outscored Golden State 40-16 in the final stanza to defeat the Warriors 120-108 at Chase Center.
Game 2 is Sunday night in San Francisco.
In the fourth, Boston tightened the screws on defense and got hot at the right time as they shot 68% from the floor, including 9/12(75%) from deep.
Marcus Smart, who had 18 points, said the team stuck to their game plan and started to make shots.
“It hasn’t been our first time being down in that position, nor in this game, let alone all season,” Smart said after the win. “We came in with a game plan. For us, it was just to stick with it, believe in ourselves. Kept doing that. As you see, everybody starts to catch fire, get hot, things start to go our way.
Boston has been involved in two Game 7s, including winning on the road against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, and according to Brown, this team is battle-tested.
“We’re battle-tested,” Brown said. “We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot of experiences, a lot of losses. We know what it takes to win. I give credit to every guy in that locker room from top to bottom. We got a great, resilient group.”
It took Horford 15 years and 141 playoff games to get to the NBA Finals, and in Game 1, with the game tied at 103 late in the fourth, Horford scored eight straight points.
“I felt like the guys kept finding me time after time,” Horford said. “Also, Derrick White hit some tough shots there, too. Yeah, it was just get the looks, knock ’em down, that’s that.”
Steph Curry scored 21 of his game-high 34 points in the first quarter. Curry made six threes(the most ever in a Finals quarter) in the first quarter. Despite the loss, Draymond Green is not concerned.
“We’ll figure out the ways we can stop them from getting those threes and take them away,” Green said. “But no, I don’t think it was a rhythm thing. We pretty much dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes. So we’ll be fine.”
Boston stole this game and should be happy that they found a way to get this victory, especially when you consider their best player, Jayson Tatum, had only 12 points on 3/17 from the field, but he did impact the game in other ways, as he had a game and career-high 13 assists and five rebounds.
Great win for the Celtics, and man, they look the part, but there is still a lot of series left.