For the second time in as many series, the Celtics will need to win a Game 7 to advance. After falling to the Miami Heat 111-103 Friday night, they’ll return to Miami to try and punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
Early turnover issues plagued the Celtics once again, as they gave the ball away three times in the first three minutes. That allowed Miami to jump out to a 12-5 lead at the first TV break.
Coming out of the timeout the Celtics steadied things a bit but never fully closed the gap. That opened the door for a Miami run midway through the quarter that extended to a 10-point lead at 19-9. The Celtics managed to close that deficit a bit, and trailed 29-22 at the end of the first quarter.
It wasn’t until the start of the second quarter that the Celtics made a move. Jayson Tatum scored the first nine points of the quarter for the C’s, sparking a 9-3 run that got Boston back within a point.
That drew a Heat timeout, and Miami got in a bit of a rhythm after the break. The Heat continued to fend the Celtics off for a few minutes, but Jaylen Brown hit a pair of free throws at the three minute mark that capped off an 8-0 run to give Boston its first lead of the game at 41-40. However, that lead only lasted a couple of minutes, and Miami went into halftime up 48-46.
Miami had the first real run of the second half, going on a 10-0 run to take a 70-58 lead around the halfway point of the third. After a timeout, the Celtics responded with a 6-0 run of their own, forcing Miami to take a timeout of their own at the four minute mark. From there, the teams played each other almost evenly, and it was an 82-75 game heading to the fourth.
Thanks to eight early points from Derrick White, the Celtics got back within two points at 89-87 with eight minutes to go in the game. Al Horford then tied the game with a three – his first make of the night – with just over five minutes to play. White followed that up with a three of his own, giving the Celtics their first lead of the second half, 97-94.
Kyle Lowry answered with a three of his own coming out of the timeout to re-ty the game. With the game knotted at 99, Brown drew a foul but missed both free throws with two minutes to go. Miami followed with a 6-0 run to put the Celtics away.
Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points, shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep. He also had nine rebounds and four assists.
However, it was consistent secondary scoring that was a problem for the Celtics. Derrick White had 22 points, but didn’t get going until late in the game. Jaylen Brown had 20, but only two of those came in the second half. After them, Marcus Smart scored 14 points, and Robert Williams 12.
The real story of the game was Jimmy Butler. While Miami also struggled to find secondary scoring, Butler did enough to carry the team. He scored a game-high 47 points on 16-of-29 shooting, with nine rebounds and eight assists.
Game 7 will take place Sunday night in Miami. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 8 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.