The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will meet for Game 6 in the bubble Sunday night, with a chance at the title on Miami’s mind. Now that the Lakers have officially knocked out Denver, a date with LeBron James is what awaits them. The Heat could have a chance to defeat the man who helped bring two titles to Miami, but making the NBA Finals on its own is an impressive accomplishment.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM Eastern.
Boston nearly blew a 2-0 series lead against the Raptors but fought them off in a highly-contested Game 7. The Heat have beaten every opponent within five games. The lone exception is Boston, able to pick up two wins against them and turn this into a competitive series.
If the Heat want to put the series to bed tonight, they’ll need to get off to a hot start. Boston controlled much of the Game 5, erasing an early deficit and turning it into a run. Their top guys were all locked in, while Daniel Theis picked up a much-needed double-double.
Tyler Herro was much quieter after a dominant Game 4, showing us that while he is capable of big moments, he is still a 20-year-old with quite a bit of growing to do.
Once again, Boston is listed as three-and-a-half point favorites. The over/under is set at 214.
Can Boston Survive?
Boston has to win tonight to keep the season alive and force a Game 7. Having already won one of those recently, we know they can do it. Their last Game 6 went to double overtime, something they probably hope won’t happen again tonight. They need to lock in early.
This Celtics team relies heavily on their starting lineup and Gordon Hayward as the go-to guy off the bench. However, few players see impact-level minutes beyond those six. We hardly saw Brad Wanamaker on Friday, and Enes Kanter took over for Rob Williams as the backup center. Grant Williams also replaced Semi Ojeleye as the backup power forward.
The one thing that’s true for the Celtics embattled bench is that anybody can be called upon at any time.
Miami One Win Away
A date with LeBron in the NBA Finals awaits the winner of the series. If the Heat can win the 48-minute battle, they’ll have a chance for glory. Miami hasn’t made it to the NBA Finals since LeBron left them in 2014, so meeting him in the Finals would be poetic, in that regard.
Jimmy Butler came out looking for his offense early in Game 5, but his 17 points and eight assists weren’t enough. Herro cooled off in a big way and was held to 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but Duncan Robinson stepped up to contribute 20 points. As good as Robinson was, he couldn’t propel the team on any runs.
The Heat will need Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic to be on their game today, but perhaps more importantly, they will also need to figure out the rotation. Solomon Hill is going to need to provide more productive minutes for the team.
It’s Over, Ladies and Gentleman
To quote Kenny “The Jet” Smith during dunk contests, “It’s over, ladies and gentlemen!” The Heat will get the win tonight and punch their ticket back to the NBA Finals.
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