The Boston Celtics had a chance at history, but fell short. But they fell short yet again. And they have nobody to blame but themselves.
Boston was home in a Game 7 with a shot to be the first NBA team to overturn a 0-3 series hole. But the Celtics came up small in the Eastern Conference finals and the Miami Heat blew them out by a 103-84 count.
Miami actually made it’s own history, becoming only the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals. The Heat will face Denver in the NBA Finals starting tonight.
Whatever momentum the Celtics should’ve carried over from their wins in game’s four,five, and six was lost through their lackluster play and effort. It did not take me long to see Boston shooting nothing but contested three point shots. There was no ball movement, few drives to the basket, and very limited efforts at fast break points. The Celtics had talent advantages at virtually every position on the court. But settling for long distance shots negated the talent edge they clearly have.
One has to give the Heat credit. They played great defense as evidenced by Boston tallying a season-low 84 points in what ended up being it’s season finale.
Boston should’ve been better. They had the home-court advantage. Better health More talent. This was supposed to be the year as the Celtics reached the NBA FInals last year with the same group before falling to Golden State.
The Warriors and the number-one seed Milwaukee Bucks were already eliminated. Again, this was supposed to be the year.
But talent isn’t enough.
And Miami has some talent of it’s own.
Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals to be named the series MVP. Butler will have to duplicate his effort if the Heat can solve the Nuggets in the Finals.
Back to Boston.
The Celtics have All-NBA players in Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown, and a better roster. But they were inconsistent all season under first year coach Joe Mazzulla. We repeatedly saw Boston lose games that were close and it gave away tight games in these playoffs.
Back to the threes.
Boston missed its first 12 3-point attempts, and Mazzulla never found a way to get them cleaner looks. Asked what had gone wrong, he said, “We shot 21 percent from 3.” Asked on whether they’d become too reliant on the 3-point shot, he angrily replied “No.”
I will talk about the Finals more next week. We will know more as a few games would have already been played. I can tell you that the nation is about to be introduced to the skills of two-time league MVP, Nikola Jokic.
Jokic will have a coming out party and Denver will show it is the best team in the NBA this season. Yes, the league would have preferred that Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers would have emerged from the conference finals. But you will still see good basketball that features both offense and defense.
Yes, there is still some defense being played in the NBA. And two teams that still play it are in the Finals.