This year’s Eastern Conference Finals features the Boston Celtics taking on the Miami Heat. Both teams consist of a few veterans and a lot of young up-and-coming talent that is trying to prove themselves. They also boast some of the league’s best coaching, setting this match up to be a close one.
The Celtics have a plethora of scorers, with four different players able to score above 20 points any given night. Leading the charge for the Celtics, 22-year-old small forward Jayson Tatum and veteran point guard Kemba Walker have stood out in the series thus far. Tatum has averaged 23.4 points and seven rebounds a game and consistently proves that he can excel in the clutch. Although Kemba is a veteran in the league, this is his first trip this deep into the playoffs. He has averaged 20 points and five assists this year. Up-and-coming star Jaylen Brown and veteran Gordon Hayward also play significant roles adding to the Celtics’ depth.
The Heat also has a balanced team full of excellent defenders and efficient shooting. Lead by Jimmy Butler, who has now made the playoffs with four different teams, the Heat is the only team with eight players averaging double digits. Butler averages 20 points, 6.7 assists and six rebounds, but his real talent is his game-closing ability. Another key to their offense is center Bam Adebayo. Adebayo has averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds along with playing consistent stellar defense. The Heat also has some great shooters in Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro.
Game 1 of the series was very back and forth but no team could get a substantial lead. The Celtics made some adjustments during halftime and came out strong, taking a 12-point lead in the third quarter. During the fourth, Dragic came alive and helped tie the game, sending it to overtime. Overtime was all Butler, who led the Heat to a 117-114 overtime win. During Game 2 the Celtics came out strong, shooting above 50% field goals in the first half to take a 13-point lead. The Heat adjusted at the half and came out forcing the Celtics to drive the ball instead. This led to the Heat outscoring the Celtics by a commanding 20 points in the third quarter. This deficit would be too much leading to a 106-101 Heat win. During the game, Dragic scored 25 points accompanied by 22 from Adebayo. The Celtics were now down 2-0 and needed a win. In Game 3, they again led by 13 points at the half, but this time they had to hold the lead. During the second half, the Celtics shot efficiently and held Butler to less than 10 points en route to a 117-106 Celtics win. Both teams knew how crucial Game 4 was so it became physical from the start. No team could gain a substantial lead as the largest lead of the first half was 7 points. With a few minutes left in the game, the Celtics tied it up but could not contain Herro as he made multiple deep threes in the clutch. This led to a 112-109 win by the Heat. During the game, Herro scored 37 points with another 24 from Jimmy Butler. Nineteen turnovers by the Celtics led to their demise.