There is a lot at stake within the bubble on Friday night, as the Miami Heat look to close out the Eastern Conference finals when they take on the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the series.
If the Celtics come up short, they will be headed back home, pondering where it all went wrong for them. And if the Heat are able to come away victorious, they will be moving on to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
The Heat have been incredible all postseason, posting an 11-2 mark to this point. Rookie Tyler Herro scored 37 points in the team’s Game 4 win, a milestone achieved by only one other rookie in the history of the playoffs, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. This is a team that plays incredibly well in all areas of the game.
The Celtics have been close in every game this series, which has to make the fact that they are down 3-1 feel even worse. They could have hypothetically swept things if only they had been more locked in for stretches.
The talent they have in the starting lineup and with Gordon Hayward off the bench is impressive, but they don’t have the depth of their counterpart.
It’s win or go home Friday evening.
The spread for Friday night’s game favors the Celtics by 3.5 points, with the over/under set at 212.5.
Miami Looks to End It
One more win. That is all it will take for the Heat to be back in the NBA Finals. They’ve stayed the course in past years, putting themselves in position to make the playoffs every year. They did not feel the lasting effect of LeBron James leaving like the Cavaliers have, twice.
The Heat changed the rotation in Game 4, removing Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk and replacing them with Solomon Hill and Derrick Jones. The only guard that came in was Herro, and he poured in 37. It is hard to believe he isn’t even old enough to walk into a bar and ask for a beer.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have continued to impact the game on both ends, and they are so close to the Finals, they can almost taste it. Coach Eric Spoelstra is doing incredible work.
Can Boston Survive?
The Celtics have the talent to match up with any team in the NBA. They got through the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the last round, but they are in a bit of a different situation now.
The odds aren’t in their favor, but the Denver Nuggets have proven that coming back from 3-1 is not impossible. They’ve done it twice already in these playoffs.
Jayson Tatum will be the difference-maker for the Celtics. He exploded for 28 points in the second half of Game 4, though that came after a scoreless first half.
He has to be consistent and do it throughout the game. He needs to get hot far earlier.
Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown need to make shots and stay out of foul trouble. The Celtics are good enough, with the three stars, to get it done. That is where the game will be decided.
Not Dead Yet
Boston will come up with a win in this one to extend the series to a Game 6. Miami is going to have to work for it.
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