It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, says a phrase from economists, but the NBA finals are beginning to take shape. Denver and Miami have gone ahead 3-0 in their playoffs against the Lakers and the Celtics, the two most successful teams in the American professional basketball league. Never, in the previous 149 times that has happened in a seven-game matchup in NBA history, has the team that started losing three games been able to turn the tie around. Either an unprecedented feat occurs or the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat will play in June for the ring.
Of course, the Celtics would have to change a lot to turn the Eastern Conference final around after what was seen last night. The Miami Heat mercilessly crushed them at home (128-102). With a choral game and admirable aim, they bombarded the Celtics from the line of 3 while they prevailed in defensive intensity, in desire, in concentration…
The two conference finals have something of a revenge flavor. The Denver Nuggets of Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray have historically collided with the Lakers when they were looking for a feat. Those from Los Angeles have beaten them in the last three conference finals they have played, closing their path to the fight for the title. As for the Miami Heat of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the desire for revenge is more recent: they beat them in the seventh game of the Eastern final in 2022.
Interestingly, the Heat entered the 2022 playoffs as the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season. This year, however, they qualified for the playoffs at the last moment and were the eighth seeds. In addition, they have had the casualties of Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro. Even so, they eliminated the big favorites for the title, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, in the first round. They comfortably dispatched the New York Knicks and reached the conference final again as the contender, against the Celtics of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford as favorites.
Now they are just one step away from winning the final and they have four chances to do so. The first will be this Tuesday, again in Miami. The coach Erik Spoelstra will want to close the process as soon as possible, in the same way that this Sunday he managed to close the game long before the end. Several starters from the two teams have been left on the bench in the last quarter, since the difference of 30 points with which it began (93-63) was already insurmountable.
At half-time the locals were 61-46 in favor, a result that, paradoxically, was almost good for the Celtics, who had come to be 22 points behind (59-37). The Heat were 58% shooting from the field and 9-of-21 from 3-pointers, while the Celtics were just 42% shooting, including 5-of-16 3-pointers. Miami dominated the first quarter 30-22 and the second, 31-24, despite the reaction of Boston.
In the Miami team, in addition, the two stars, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, were the team’s fourth and fifth scorer in the middle of the game, with 9 and 7 points, respectively. Caleb Martin had 11 points, while Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson each had 10. The secondary actors have responded wonderfully in the three games of the series, especially in this one, in which Vincent has become the great protagonist.
The Heat, seen as overly reliant on Butler and Adebayo, were playing as a team, while the Celtics seemed lost on the court, wondering how they could go through another game without ever quite feeling in it.
The 32-17 of the third quarter has sentenced the match. Butler and Adebayo have been improving their statistics, but the difference has been made above all by Gabe Vincent’s three-pointers, who at the end of the game achieved his highest personal score in a game of the playoffs, 29 points, in 11 baskets of 14 attempts, including 6 triples. Butler, with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, was the team’s fourth scorer, also behind Robinson (22 points) and Martin (18). The Heat have hit 19 of the 36 3-pointers they’ve attempted.
Opposite, the ring was small for the Celtics, who could anxiety. Seeing that the difference widened and time was running out, they looked for quick shots, especially 3 shots, but without any success, in a vicious circle from which they have not been able to get out. In the end, 11 of 42 triples and 40% shooting from the field. His top scorer has been Tatum with only 14 points. The Celtics have only dominated in the rebounding facet.
In the last quarter, the two teams considered that they were already garbage minutes, inconsequential, with the game decided. There has been rest for Butler, Adebayo, Tatum and Brown, among others, and players have appeared on the court who had not yet been seen in the entire series. Even Nikola Jović (not to be confused with Nikola Jokić) has played a few minutes on the Heat. Meanwhile, the Kaseya Center in Miami was a party.
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