NBA history had an appointment this Monday in Boston, where basketball has written so many pages of glory. Whoever won was going to be a game to remember: for the unprecedented comeback in the case of the Celtics or for the passage to the NBA finals of an eighth seed from their conference, something that had only happened once before. The Celtics had suddenly become the favorites, but Miami has come out hungry for revenge and has ruined the locals a feat that the fans already savored.
In the 151 times a team has won the first three games of a best-of-seven matchup, they have ended up taking the tie. This has not been an exception. By winning in Boston (84-103), the Miami Heat have a triple prize: the title of champion of the Eastern Conference, play the NBA final against the Denver Nuggets, champions of the West, and avoid going down in history as the first team to blow a 3-0 lead in their favor.
In addition, Miami is taking revenge on the Celtics for the Eastern Conference final a year ago, when Jimmy Butler, the star of the Heat, missed the decisive basket in his stadium in the seventh game.
The one this Monday at the TD Garden in Boston was a high-tension match, the final within the final. Life or death for both teams, unlike the previous three, which were an exercise in survival for the Celtics. The Boston team won Game 6 in Miami with a slap from Derrick White at the buzzer, when all seemed lost.
After that bitter defeat, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was eager to get back on track: “That’s how it’s been this season. This is one hell of a tie. Right now, I don’t know how we’re going to get it, but we’re going up there [a Boston] to get it,” Spoelstra said. “This season nothing has been easy for our group. So we have to do it the hard way. We’d like to wrap this up right now. Right now, let’s drop this, and play another 48 minutes. But we will wait 48 hours and do it in Boston,” he added.
Those from Miami reached the playoffs in the playoffs, the so-called play in. While other teams were dropped in the classification table to have more ballots in the lottery of the draft, that this year came with the jackpot of the Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, Miami continued to fight until the end for not ending the season. Now he has had his prize. Only the New York Knicks in 1999 had made it to the NBA Finals after being seeded eighth.
That meant that he had to face the most solid and complete team in the regular season, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, in the first round. Miami didn’t get smaller, Jimmy play off Butler, nicknamed so because he grows in the playoffs, did wonders to defeat the Bucks, who suffered an injury to their star during part of the playoff.
Miami has also had significant casualties. Victor Oladipo hasn’t been able to participate in the entire postseason and Kyle Lowry broke his hand in the opener in Milwaukee. Despite this, the rest of the team still managed to beat the Bucks, then the Knicks, and finally the Celtics. Along with Butler, Bam Adebayo has especially shone. Although her real name is Edrice Femi Adebayo, her mother nicknamed her Bam Bam after the Flintstones character, the strongest boy in the world. Adebayo has provided strength, defensive intensity and rebounding power, but also attacking ability.
Jimmy Butler has taken the award for the most valuable player of the Eastern Conference final. After the defeat of the sixth game in the last tenth of a second he smiled resignedly. “Basketball for you, basketball at its best, very entertaining. But that’s good basketball,” he said. “We were in this same position last year. We can do it. I know we will. We have to go play abroad and win in a very, very, very tough environment.” After the victory, his smile was one of happiness.
a bad omen
This Monday the game began with a bad omen for the locals. Jayson Tatum, the big local star, slightly sprained his ankle on the first possession. That did not rule him out, but at least it made him doubt his physique at times. The coach, Joe Mazulla, opted to give him some rest already in the first quarter.
The Celtics’ first field goal came after two minutes and Miami’s, almost after 3, partly due to defensive intensity and partly because of nerves. Both teams made just 4 of their first 14 shots. Then Miami improved their aim somewhat and gained the advantage. The Celtics, on the other hand, missed all 10 3-point shots they attempted in the first quarter, which ended with the visitors’ lead of 15-22. A meager score.
In the second quarter, Miami came out more in tune and led by 12 points. Miami held the difference by at least 10 points with Caleb Martin and Jimmy Butler acting as stars. At halftime it was 41-52 in favor of Miami. The difference between the two teams lay in the success from the 3-point line, where Miami had 8 triples of 16 attempts and the Celtics only 4 of 21.
Butler has started the third quarter with a triple. He then left a layup and Miami was 16 points ahead. Joe Mazulla has called a timeout. History was elusive to Boston. There was almost half a game left, but the difference was starting to be too big. He needed a comeback in the game to achieve a comeback in the tie. Neither one nor the other came.
Derrick White, the savior of the last game, brought the Celtics back to life with 8 consecutive points. But Caleb Martin was determined to be the hero and managed to keep his distance. Miami escaped again and that’s where Tatum scored his first triple, with just over 5 minutes left to go in the third quarter. Another basket by White has brought the Celtics within 8 points (58-66). Erik Spoelstra called a timeout.
The two teams gritted their teeth. The party has intensified. Butler has scored a triple, but Grant Williams has replied with another. Adebayo, who had barely seen a basket, has increased the distance to 9. Tatum has returned it to 7 points with two free throws. And Caleb Martin, determined to be the star, has scored another triple. Again 10 points. Two free throws by White and a new basket by Martin at the time limit have left the score at 66-76 at the end of the third quarter. There were 12 minutes left to make history. In the 67 times Miami had led 10 or more points into the fourth quarter in a playoff game, it had won.
To start the last quarter, Martin has scored another triple. He was on. Jaylen Brown has made a foul on offense and Butler has made a basket from midrange and then a dunk on a fast break. 66-83 on the scoreboard with 10:49 remaining. To achieve the miracle, another miracle was needed. The Celtics have begun to shoot triples desperately. Al Horford has scored the first, but the others have not entered. Miami has started to distance itself and soon it was more than 20 points with less than 7 minutes to play.
There has been no emotion to end the game that was promised to be the most exciting of the season.
The Celtics already saved themselves in the last game in the conference semifinal against the Sixers at home with an exhibition by Tatum. The power forward broke the scoring record in a seventh game of the playoffs which had just been signed by Stephen Curry. With 51 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists, after a series of 17 baskets of 28 attempts from the field, including 6 triples of 10 attempts, Tatum did not give his rivals any options. But whether it’s his sprained ankle, lack of inspiration or Miami’s defense, he hasn’t been able to repeat such a feat.
The NBA finals between the champion of the East and the champion of the West begin this week, with a game on Thursday and another on Sunday. In the final, the Denver Nuggets of Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray, champions of the Western Conference, await, who will arrive much more rested, since they dispatched the Lakers on the fast track. The first two games are played in Denver. It’s the first time Denver has reached the finals, so it’s an unprecedented matchup. Historical, if you will.
[Noticia de ultima hora. Habra ampliacion en breve]
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Source: EL PAIS