The NBA playoffs are well underway, and just four teams remain fighting to keep their season alive. In a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics have been battling it out for a spot in the NBA Finals. Over the weekend, the Heat blew out the Celtics in a must-win Boston home game 128-102. The Heat now lead the Celtics 3-0 and they will look to capitalize on that this week when they play them again later this week for a chance to sweep them 4-0 to advance to the NBA Finals.
The Heat have had a historic playoff run so far. First losing a play-in game, then an 8th seed coming into the playoffs, the Heat will be only the second team in NBA history to make the NBA finals if they beat Boston in game 4. The New York Knicks achieved the same feat in 1999, but during a shortened NBA lockout season. The Heat’s star player, Jimmy Butler, has been on a tear. He has averaged 29.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 13 games in the 2023 playoffs, with career highs in points. He has been complemented by a reliable group of starters and players of the bench. Miami’s #2 option, Bam Adebayo, has averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 14 games this year. The Heat bench has posted 505 points in the 2023 playoffs, the most points off the bench for any team in the final four this season.
Boston’s stars, on the other hand, have been extremely disappointing. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have disappeared for large stretches of the last three games and have hardly shown up in the fourth quarter. Although Tatum is averaging 27.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 16 games these playoffs, he scored only 12 points in a must-win game 3. Brown has been underperforming for the whole series averaging just 16.7 points for the series. Despite a strong bench showing from Boston, their stars underperforming has put them in a position where they are down 0-3 in the Conference Finals, a far cry from the NBA finals.
No team down 0-3 has come back to win a series, so the Heat will look to capitalize and win Game 4, advancing to the NBA Finals as an 8th seed for the first time in franchise history, and only the 2nd time in NBA history.