Grant Green – 23 Sports

The Miami Heat have defeated the Boston Celtics in six games to advance to the NBA Finals and take on the Los Angeles Lakers for a shot at the title. The Heat make the trip as the lowest seed since the New York Knicks from the 1998-99 lockout year. This Miami Heat team is very different from the 2014 team that last made a trip to the finals, the only consistencies are with Udonis Haslem, the 17-year veteran, and head coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra is making his sixth trip to the finals in hopes to defeat his greatest former player in Lebron James.

After falling short in Game Three, it was up to Miami whether they were going to be able to take a commanding 3-1 lead or go neck to neck with Boston at 2-2. In Game Four, both teams were looking for a player to step up and have a big night, before Game Four, no player for either team scored over 30 in any of the previous games. Lucky for Miami, it was one of their players to break that streak as rookie Tyler Herro put up a big game with 37 points, the second most points in a playoff game by a rookie since Magic Johnson back in 1980. His performance, especially with a couple of big shots late in the game, was a big deal-breaker that allowed Miami to keep the lead for almost the entirety of the last three quarters. Many times Boston came inches away from getting the lead back, but Miami responded every time, holding that pattern until the end, getting the crucial 3-1 series lead, winning 112-109.

Now for the first time in these playoffs, the Celtics have their backs in a corner and are put into desperation mode. We had seen the Denver Nuggets already come back from a 3-1 deficit twice but was Boston capable of having that mental toughness as well? For Game Five, we certainly did not see this Celtic team back down. The two players that needed to step up big did just that. Jayson Tatum had 31 points 10 rebounds, and six assists, while Jaylen Brown and 28 points and eight rebounds. Miami’s poor three-point shooting (19%) held them back after a strong first quarter going up by seven. Miami was outscored by 20 in the second half, Boston won Game Four by 13, the biggest win of the series, winning 121-108 and making this at least a six-game series.

Although the Heat was still in the driver’s seat and had been doing so great in the playoffs before, the playoff experience was definitely in Boston’s favor. In a non-COVID-19 world, this game would’ve been in Miami, and that would be something the Heat could rely on to get them through such a big game. But with no crowd, how is Miami going to handle a game with so much on the line? These two teams battled for over three and a half quarters, and at the 5:40 mark in the game, it was 103-102 Miami. Where everything went wrong for Boston was when they allowed the Heat to go on a 13-0 run for three minutes. It proved to be the opposite of what would be expected of a team with no playoff experience. The Miami Heat finished out strong shooting very well from three, nearly 50% shooting, and now they are the 2020 Eastern Conference Champions with a 125-113 win in Game Six.

Outlook:

Head Coach Erik Spoelstra and President of Basketball Operations Pat Riley are two geniuses. Many people genuinely looked at this team as barely even a playoff team. But Pat Riley wanted this team to be competitive this year, and now they are the champions of the east. What’s so impressive about this team is that their star player Jimmy Butler was the fourth-leading scorer of the conference finals with 19 points per game. Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, and rookie Tyler Herro all averaged more. This is probably the greatest showcase of team basketball we have seen in a very long time. The question is who is going to stop, or hopefully contain that two-headed monster of Anthony Davis and Lebron James? Andre Iguodala won Finals MVP back in 2015 for guarding Lebron, this is a great defensive team, but their talent is in their guards. So can Iguadola, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, the bigs for the Miami Heat do enough to allow the guards to go to work and get ahead of a big Los Angeles Laker team?

For Boston, their situation will get better, there is no reason to change things up too much, although Gordon Hayward’s name has been thrown around for trade possibilities if he opts into his player option with his contract. They’ve made the Eastern Conference Finals, three of the last four years, got a new star player this year in Kemba Walker. This team is too young, with too much potential to start getting frustrated. The East is going to be an open window again next year, and all they can do is get ready for the season and go out and execute.

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