The playoffs are heating up and the daily preview takes it to the rim with NBA tips for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
10:30 (AEST), Sat 28th May @ TD Garden, Boston
History: Played 157: Celtics 91 V Heat 66
Last meeting: May 26, 2022: Celtics 93 d Heat 80 at FTX Arena
Final Thoughts: Boston Celtics get the first opportunity to finish off the Eastern Conference Finals – at home in Game 6 – after flipping a hard-fought series against Miami Heat on its head with a pair of dominant defensive displays.
Boston took the 3-2 ascendancy with a 93-80 win in Game 5, dominating the second half after trailing by one at halftime. Jaylen Brown (25 pts) and Jayson Tatum (22 pts, 12 reb, 9 ast) led the offence, but it’s the Celtics’ suffocating defence – restricting the Heat to just 162 points in the last two games – that has turned the series.
Jimmy Butler (13 pts, 4-for-18 shooting) has gone ice cold. Bam Adebayo (18 pts, 10 reb) top-scored, while Gabe Vincent (15 pts) came off the bench to be the only other Heat player to score more than 11 points. Miami went an eye-watering 7-for-45 from three-point range and finished the night with a 31.9 percent shooting percentage overall.
Heat hot early
The Celtics led by eight at halftime in Game 1 – before Jimmy Butler balled out to lead the Heat to a 118-107 victory. Butler scored 27 points in second half to finish with a history-making statline of 41 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. A disastrous 39-14 third quarter – with the Celtics shooting 2 for 15 – sealed the visitors’ fate. Jayson Tatum (29 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl) and Jaylen Brown (24 pts, 10 reb) put up good numbers but couldn’t go with Butler in the second half.
But with Al Horford and Marcus Smart back on deck, the Celtics romped to a 127-102 road win in Game 2. Tatum and Brown combined for 51 points, but Smart (24 pts, 9 reb, 12 ast, 3 stl) stole the show. Grant Williams also dropped 19 points off the bench. The Celtics hit 20 of 40 three-point attempts, while the Heat could manage only 10 of 34 with Butler (29 pts) the only Miami player to score more than 14 points.
Butler lasted just 19 minutes of Game 3 in Boston, but the Heat pulled off a crucial 109-103 victory on the back of a stunning all-round display by Bam Adebayo (31 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl). The Celtics led virtually every statistical category and Brown put up 40 points, but the hosts couldn’t reel in the 21-point deficit they’d conceded by the end of the first quarter.
Celtics turn tide
Heat starters Butler, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and PJ Tucker were all listed as questionable for Game 4, while Tyler Herro was ruled out. Incredibly, the hampered starting line-up managed just 18 points between them in a 102-82 loss. Victor Oladipo (23 pts) top-scored off the bench. Tatum (31 pts, 8 reb, 5 ast) overcame a neck complaint to torch the Heat as the Celtics squared the series again.
Herro and Gabe Vincent are listed as questionable for Game 6. Smart and Robert Williams are questionable for the Celtics.
Several other Heat players are clearly playing hurt, which makes it difficult to turn around their limp offensive output. It’s a must-win – but TD Garden is a tough place to achieve a form reversal of the magnitude that’s needed. The Celtics are giving away a lot of points at the line to a team with as much heart as the Heat, but I think they run away with this.