Game: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Odds: Heat +7, Celtics -7
When the Boston Celtics face the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night, they have a chance to make NBA history. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. The second-seeded Celtics, who have won the last three games of the Eastern Conference finals series, have a chance to bust through that door.
On Saturday night, Boston was within three seconds from losing the game when Derrick White’s famous tip-in just before the buzzer gave the Celtics an incredible 104-103 road victory. The winner of tonight’s game will take on the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.
The New York Knicks (who lost to the Rochester Royals in the 1951 NBA Finals), the Nuggets (who lost to the Utah Jazz in the 1994 second round), and the Portland Trail Blazers (who lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2003 first round) are the three teams to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0. Each of the three clubs suffered a road loss in Game 7. In the Eastern Conference finals last year, Game 7 also involved the Heat and Celtics. Boston won in Miami 100–96.
Jimmy Butler made three free throws with 3.0 seconds remaining in Game 6 to give Miami a chance to win on Saturday. White inbounded the ball, but when he noticed that no Heat player was following him, he raced to the hoop and tipped in Marcus Smart’s missed shot right before the final buzzer to end Miami’s celebration.
After scoring 15 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter of the game on Saturday despite making just 5-of-21 field goal attempts, Butler will be hoping for a more consistent performance. He’ll need to be on top of his game.
Miami can also make history as one of only two No. 8 seeds to make it to the NBA Finals. The New York Knicks were the first to accomplish the feat in 1999. The greater historical narrative, however, is on the Celtics, who appeared prepared to end their season after losing Game 3, 128–102.
The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon missed Game 6 due to a right forearm strain and is listed as questionable for Monday. Miami G Gabe Vincent is also questionable with a sprained left ankle.
The Heat have been strong against the number in games against Boston. They have covered in four of the six games in this series, six of the last eight, and in 15 of the last 21 games against the Celtics played in Boston. The Celtics have won 12 of their last 17 games at home. Boston is 5-5 at home in the postseason this year.
Miami won the first three games of the series and each of the three went Over the total. The Heat scored 111 or more points in the three victories. Boston has won the last three games by holding Miami to 99, 97, and 103 points. Tonight’s total of 203 reflects that of a deciding Game 7. Every possession counts and both teams will be more deliberate when running their offenses.
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