The idea of ​​the Miami Heat blowing a 3-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics is real

By | May 26, 2023

After the Miami Heat’s dismantling of the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Heat would advance to the NBA Finals.

The question was not if the heat would advance. The questions that instead surrounded the series were, would the Celtics fire first-year head coach Joe Mazzulla? And would Boston finally break away from their core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart after six straight postseasons of missing a title?

Not so fast – Boston isn’t done yet.

After the Celtics own dismantling of the Heat in Game 5, Boston is suddenly looking to even the series with a win in Miami in Game 6. Considering the Celtics already dominated the Heat at the Kaseya Center in Game 4, 116-99, that’s not too far to think that Boston could head back to TD Garden for a Game 7 on Monday night.

“One of our assistants put it in good perspective,” Mazzulla said. “Seasons are like nine months long and we’ve just had a bad week. Sometimes you have a bad week at work. We obviously didn’t pick the best time to have a bad week, but we did it and we stick together and fight like hell to keep it alive and the guys really come together.

Brown issued a stern warning after the Celtics’ 110-97 beating of the Heat in Game 5 — don’t let them win another one.

“They let us get two, so don’t let us get another one,” Brown said via TNT.

For the second game in a row, the Celtics came out with more energy. And with Boston coming out as the aggressors, the Heat seem to have no answer for the Celtics’ young guns.

Four Celtics players scored at least 21 points, paced by role player Derrick White’s 24 points. Meanwhile, Boston’s “Big Three” of Tatum, Brown and Smart combined to shoot 24-for-46 (52.1%) while scoring 65 points.

The most important statistic? The Heat’s 16 turnovers, which directly led to 27 points for the Celtics off the turnover. It was the second straight game that Boston scored 27 points on turnovers, with Miami also committing 16 turnovers in the Game 4 loss.

The Heat averaged just 10.5 turnovers in their losses in Games 2 and 3.

“Our offense was a little disjointed,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “We weren’t able to start our offense, get the ball where it needed to go in the places you can operate.”

The offense’s inability to function smoothly was a major reason why Miami’s performance was so poor from the opening tip. The Celtics outscored the Heat 15-5 to start the game before ending the opening quarter with a 35-20 lead. Miami never recovered – and never led – as they were beaten into submission.

The absence of Gabe Vincent – ​​one of the Heat’s several undrafted heroes – was felt throughout the game as Kyle Lowry was inserted into the starting lineup. Unsurprisingly, the 37-year-old looked old and sluggish, producing more turnovers than assists – four to one – and just five points.

By comparison, Vincent averaged 17.5 points per game on 57.9% from the field and 50.0% from beyond the arc in Games 1 through 4 before spraining his ankle.

Most importantly, the 2023 NBA playoff MVP — Jimmy Butler — was largely a non-factor. Butler was out of sync, producing his career-low 14 points on a night when the Heat needed him more than ever.

While Butler scored 29 points in Game 4, he did so on 9-of-21 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. In other words, it was the third game in a row where Butler was simply ineffective in total scoring and efficiency.

Despite his – and the Heat’s – uneven performance for the second straight game, Butler will remain untouched entering Game 6.

“We’re always going to be positive, knowing that we can and we will win this series,” Butler said. “We just have to finish it at home.”

No team in NBA playoff history has come back from a 3-0 deficit. It has happened 150 times and not one The team has won after three games behind.

While history points to the heat eventually shutting it out, the idea of ​​history in the making is one very realistically – the Celtics can pull this one out and advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

Miami has arguably been the hottest team in the postseason. But remember, this is a team that lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the play-in game and nearly lost the postseason altogether when they trailed the 40-42 Chicago Bulls by six points midway through the fourth quarter. It took a big effort — Butler scored 13 points in the final seven minutes — for the Heat to win.

The Heat are also missing key role players in Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo, and have relied on Butler to carry the scoring load along with key scoring and three-point shooting from the undrafted quartet — Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson — to advance this far.

If Butler isn’t able to produce typical scoring by his standards — he’s averaging 28.8 points per game on 50.5% shooting in the playoffs — and the Heat’s role players aren’t able to take care of the ball and become heat from deep, Celtics likely to win Game 6.

And if they do?

The Heat will have some real trouble getting into a potential Game 7 at TD Garden.

History could be staring Miami in the face and this time, the odds will not favor them.

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