Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a Game 7. After being counted out by many, the Miami Heat responded with a huge win against the Boston Celtics. Led by their star Jimmy Butler, Miami gave their all on the floor. Even though the Heat lost their lead a couple of times, they continued to respond back. With Kyle Lowry fouling out in the last few minutes, the task of finishing the game got even tougher, but Miami got key stops on the defensive end and huge shots by their star player to seal the game. With the 111-103 win, the series is now tied at 3-3. Here are my takeaways from Friday’s win over Boston.
Jimmy Freaking Butler!
Since Game 3, Butler hasn’t been himself. He struggled to get to the line and make plays at the rim. His explosiveness was missing, as well. After losing Game 5, Butler told reporters he needed to be better. And he was. From tipoff, Butler was engaged and aggressive on both ends. Defensively, he picked up a couple of steals in the passing lanes and crashed the boards. Most importantly, he took the game over offensively. When the offense stalled, the Heat put the ball in Butler’s hands, and they were able to generate buckets. Butler knocked down jumpers, attacked the rim, and found open teammates. He was simply sensational in Game 6, finishing the night with 47 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
As sensational as Butler’s performance was, he needed help from his teammates. He got the needed help from Lowry, who responded with a nice performance of his own. In the previous two games, Lowry had scored zero points. In Game 6, he got the pull up jumpers going. His first made basket came off a pull-up three out of the pick-and-roll. That’s been open for him all series long. If he’s able to knock those pull-up jumpers down, it opens up a lot for the Heat offense. Once he made that shot, he attacked the basket with a wide-open layup. In the fourth quarter, he shot a huge three-pointer to tie the game at 97. He looked very much like the point guard Miami visioned when they signed him. Hopefully, he can do it again in Game 7. Lowry ended the night with 18 points and 10 assists.
In Game 3, Victor Oladipo was huge off the bench defensively, especially with four steals. Even though he didn’t get four steals in Game 6, his on-ball defense was huge for Miami. He did a great job of staying in front of the Celtics stars and making it uncomfortable for them offensively. He drew multiple offensive fouls against Jaylen Brown. One of those was a charge that fouled Brown out of the game, which ended up being the biggest defensive stop of the game. Without that call being overturned, Brown would have had two free throws with the opportunity to close Miami’s lead to two. However, the referees corrected the call and the Heat’s four-point lead was intact. Oladipo still didn’t get going offensively but his defensive performance was huge on Friday night. Oladipo finished the night with nine points and five rebounds.
There is one game left in the Eastern Conference Finals. The winner punches their ticket to the NBA Finals to face the Golden State Warriors. Miami will have the opportunity to get it done on their home floor. This is why the team fought so hard to grab the first seed in the regular season. Still, the Heat have to get the job done. Their last two games in Miami haven’t gone very well, as the Celtics have blown them off the court. Miami has to do a better job of protecting home court. If they do, they will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. We’ll see what happens on Sunday.
Next Up: Game 7 on Sunday tips off at 8:30pm eastern time.
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