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Can the Celtics make history? – Denver Post

History has already been made. The Boston Celtics just have to do it one more time.

A week ago, the Miami Heat were destined for a trip to the NBA Finals. They were would-be world beaters who had not only brushed aside Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks in five first-round games, but were set to do the same with the Celtics taking a 3-0 series lead. Eastern Conference Finals.

Now, in the blink of an eye, the series is even. There will be Game 7 – Boston of all places – and now it’s the Celtics looking like Goliaths again against a Heat team lacking the confidence they once exuded.

Only four teams in NBA history have ever come back from 0-3 to force a Game 7: The Rochester Royals did so against the Knicks in 1951; the Denver Nuggets returned to force Game 7 against the Utah Jazz in 1994; the Portland Trail Blazers stunned Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks to force Game 7 after leading 0-3 in the first round in 2003.

And now there are those Celtics, who are aiming to be the first team to complete the series comeback, with each of their three predecessors having lost in Game 7.

“I’m glad we gave ourselves another chance,” said All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, who missed all eight of his three-point attempts but made all 15 free throws and finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds. and five attends the night. “We didn’t play well. The first three games we didn’t deserve to win, and we really took it one game at a time. The series is not over. We still have a big game on Monday, but the courage we showed to get there, I’m proud of. I’m proud to be part of this team and I’ve never been so excited to be back in Boston in my life.

The way it happened was almost poetic. After all, the Heat seemed to have sealed the deal with seconds left on the clock.

Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler fouled Celtics center Al Horford with a corner three. It was the third straight time Butler had made his way to the line – his bread and butter – on the stretch, and he made all three free throws to give Miami a one-point lead with just three ticks remaining. in the regulations.

During the ensuing timeout, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla crafted a pin-down screen so Tatum could get a clean look at a winner.

But the Heat won.

Instead, the ball went to Marcus Smart, who took a hard-fought, disputed three-pointer that barely passed. As Smart’s jumper was in the air, Celtics new starter Derrick White crashed from the left corner to the rim. He beat every other player on the ground to the rebound and swung the ball out of the glass and through the net, beating the last buzzer – and the Heat – on the same play.

“Ooooh-weeee. Oh my God. It was amazing. Man,” Tatum said. after that D-White pointed it out, but it felt like the longest 10 seconds waiting for confirmation if he did or not.

“I’m still in disbelief. This shit was crazy.

The Heat have been here before. At least in theory.

Last season, they lost to the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston advanced to the NBA Finals and lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

“You’re going to take the same test until you pass it. We were in the same position last year, and we can do it,” Butler said after Game 6. The Heat star had a night to forget: although he walked to the line along of the stretch and put his team in position to win, Butler still shot just 5 of 21 from the field for his 24 points.

In fact, it was a bad streak for the same player who averaged 37 points in the first round against Milwaukee. He had bad games — or bad streaks during critical moments — in each of Boston’s three wins.

“I told the guys in the locker room that if I play better, we’re not even in this position, honestly, and I’ll be better,” he said. “And that’s what makes me smile because these guys follow my example, so when I play better. I think we are playing better overall.

History is on the side of Miami. It’s the farthest a team has ever come after leading a playoff series, 0-3. Most teams in this situation don’t make it that far. The Celtics are proving they’re not most teams.

But are they unique? Can they win a fourth game in a row against the same Heat team that won the first three games of this series?

History may be with the Heat, but all the momentum in the world is with Boston.

“We all talked about it. We are all aware. Now is not the time to party. We haven’t accomplished anything,” Tatum said. “We won a game, a big game that we had to win in an incredible way. We’re proud of the way we played, proud of the way we got it, but the job is far from done.

“We have to be ready on Monday. It is not finished.”



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