The Miami Heat are just a win away from reaching the NBA Finals.
The Heat, after stealing a pair of games at the TD Garden to start the series, took on the Boston Celtics Sunday night in South Florida. The Heat cruised to a 128-102 win over the Celtics, giving them a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals and putting them on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals since 2020.
“As you can tell, Edge was as big as the ocean for everyone,” Heat star Bam Adebayo said on TNT.
The Heat led in the first half, and at one point had a 21-point lead in the second quarter. While Boston rallied slightly and cut the deficit to 15 at the break, it still represented the Celtics’ largest first-half deficit so far this postseason. Their 46 points were the fewest scored in a first half in the playoffs to date. The Celtics just looked outside.
That didn’t improve in the second half. The Heat opened the third quarter 28-10. In this way, they moved up by 33 points – matching their largest lead all season. Nothing was ever going right for Boston, who only scored 17 points in the period, and the Heat took full advantage.
By then, it was basically game over. The Heat held on to win by 26 points, resting both teams’ starters the rest of the way, putting them up 3-0 in the series.
“I didn’t find them ready to play,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzola He said. “I had to. Whatever it is… I have to get them somewhere better and ready to play. That’s on me.”
Jason Tatum led the Celtics with just 14 points in the loss. He added 10 rebounds, but shot 6 of 18 from the field. Jaylen Brown finished with 12 points. These two were the only Celtics players to hit double digits. They’ve also shot 7 of their 40 combined behind the arc so far in the series with Miami, and made just one combined pointer on Sunday night. As a team, Boston shot 6 of 31 from the 3-point line.
Then Mazzola made some shocking confession. He lost the Celtics locker room.
Gabe Vincent led the Heat with 29 points in the win. Shoot 6-of-9 from the 3-point line. Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin put up a combined 40 points off the bench, and Jimmy Butler finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Heat shoot better than 54% from the 3-point line as a team, and nearly 57% from the field. Miami is now the first No. 8 seed in league history to win a playoff game by 25 or more points as well.
The fourth game of the series is set on a Tuesday night in Miami. If the Celtics don’t show up again, as they failed to do Sunday night, the Heat could be looking for a clean sweep en route to another Finals appearance. Even if they don’t win on Tuesday, no team in NBA history has managed to recover from a 3-0 deficit.
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