Celtics outlast Butler, Heat in Game 7 to reach The Finals and chase yet another championship. Like Boston hasn’t won enough in the history of the NBA.
The Boston Celtics held on for dear life against the relentless Miami Heat in Game 7 and survived.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — the core of a team that had lost two previous chances together to win the Eastern Conference finals — combined for 74 points in a 100-96 victory to advance to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Boston won for the third time in four games in Miami.
Tatum won the NBA’s first-ever Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP award after scoring 26 points in Sunday’s win-or-go-home game. Brown and Smart each added 24. The trio also combined for 25 rebounds and 17 assists. Al Horford grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots in a dominant defensive effort.
Game 7 Stats
As The Boston Celtics become the champions of The Eastern Conference of The NBA.
Jimmy Butler scored 35 points, playing all 48 minutes for the Heat in defeat. Bam Adebayo added 25 points. Miami’s two bright stars shot 56% from the field. Their teammates 36 points on 28% shooting.
The Celtics pushed the pace in the first quarter and played lockdown defense, taking a 32-17 advantage with the same execution that doused the heat to start Game 4. Six Celtics scored in the first six minutes. They also scored 13 points in transition on one end and held Miami to 35% shooting from the field (1-7 3P).
As in Game 6, Butler kept Miami within striking distance whenever Boston threatened to blow the game open. He made all five of his shots in the second quarter and got to the line 10 times. His 3-pointer with 1:26 left before halftime cut the deficit to single digits and gave him 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The rest of the Heat had 20 points on 8-of-26 attempts at the time. Four Lowry free throws on a pair of light fouls gave Miami 19 in the frame and capped an 11-2 run to close the quarter. Boston clung to a 55-49 lead.