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NBA Eastern Conference: How Celtics forced Miami Heat to game 7

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Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics defeated Miami Heat in Game 6 to force the series to Game 7. | PHOTO: CBS |
  • The Miami Heat played Boston Celtics in game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference final on Saturday
  • A win for the Heat would have sealed the tie and would earn them a slot in the 2023 NBA finals
  • Boston Celtics however like in game 5 fought to the last minute to force the tie to game 7

The Miami Heat came tantalizingly close to reaching the NBA Finals, only to be thwarted in the final seconds by a clutch shot from Derrick White of the Boston Celtics. With just two-tenths of a second left on the clock, White managed to score on a putback of a missed jumper by Marcus Smart, securing a heart-stopping 104-103 victory for the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. This win forces a decisive Game 7, with the Celtics now on the verge of accomplishing a historic comeback from a 3-0 series deficit.

The game unfolded in a manner reminiscent of the previous year’s Game 7 between these two teams on the same court. Boston maintained control throughout the contest and held a comfortable nine-point lead when Jayson Tatum sank a pair of free throws, making it 100-91 with just over three minutes remaining.

However, the Heat refused to go down without a fight. Despite struggling for most of the game, Jimmy Butler came alive in the final minutes, scoring the last 10 points for the Heat in a span of two minutes. His contributions included a crucial three-pointer, free throws, and a foul drawn on Al Horford during a three-point attempt. After a lengthy review, Butler sank all three free throws, putting the Heat in a position to win.

READ: Boston Celtics win Game 5, two wins away from 2023 NBA final
Boston Celtics 104-103 Miami Heat | 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Final

Boston Celtics won game 6 against Miami Heat to force the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference finals to game 7. | PHOTO: Sky Sports |

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla decided to challenge the foul called on Horford, and although the call stood, the challenge had an unintended benefit for Boston. It provided an additional nine-tenths of a second, extending their time to execute a play.

Ultimately, the Celtics made full use of that extra time. The victory in Game 6 marked their remarkable resurgence in the series, becoming only the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0. They now have the opportunity to be the first team to host Game 7 after such a deficit.

Mazzulla’s coaching prowess in elimination games has been exceptional, tying him with the late Paul Westphal for the most such victories by a first-time head coach in the playoffs. The Celtics’ eight wins in elimination games over the past two postseasons equal the record set by the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995. Furthermore, Boston’s five consecutive road wins in elimination games match the Celtics’ own record from 1968 to 1974 and the Phoenix Suns’ streak from 1981 to 1990. Notably, all of Boston’s five consecutive away wins with their season on the line have occurred in the past two postseasons.

READ: What the Los Angeles Lakers have to do during off-season

The Celtics’ success on the road during the past two playoffs is also noteworthy, as their 14 away victories rank among the most by any team over consecutive years. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 15 road wins across the 2001 and 2002 playoffs, while the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors each won 14 road games in consecutive postseasons. Notably, all four of these teams went on to win championships.

As the Celtics gear up for Game 7, a win would grant them the opportunity to vie for an NBA title against the Denver Nuggets. Derrick White’s heroic shot has afforded the Celtics the chance to make history and potentially add another championship to their storied franchise.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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