NBA Eastern Conference Finals Recap

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S.I.

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in 6 games in this year’s ECF.

If you told most NBA fans eight or nine months ago that the Miami Heat would be headed to the 2020 NBA Finals, you would be looked at like you have three heads.

 

For the Heat to make it to the Finals, they would have to get past the true Powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. That would mean succeeding Milwaukee, Toronto, and/or Boston. Could Miami really do this?

 

Surely enough, they proved the answer is ‘yes’. Miami had enough cohesiveness, skill, and willpower to eliminate both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics in the semifinals and Conference finals, respectively.

 

On Sunday, September 27th 2020, the #5 seeded Heat officially knocked off the #3 seeded Boston Celtics to secure the Eastern Conference Finals victory, winning 4 games to 2.

 

The Heat were able to take wins in both Game 1 and Game 2 of this series.

 

In Game 1’s scrappy overtime battle, Miami was extremely impressive, led by Goran Dragic’s 29-point performance and Jae Crowder’s five made three-pointers. Despite Jayson Tatum’s incredible 30 point-14 rebound-5 assist performance for Boston, the Heat were still able to scrap out the victory.  Final Score: 117-114, Heat win.

 

In Game 2, the Heat came to play again, but started off with a lackluster effort before storming all the way back from a 17-point deficit to nail Boston hard. This game was a true all-around team effort, as all five starters scored in double-digits, complemented by Herro’s 11 points off the bench. The Heat take a decisive 2-0 series lead. Final Score: 106-101, Heat win.

 

Game 3 was mostly dominated by the Celtics. Being up by 13 points at halftime, the C’s did not blow their lead in this game, and finished out relatively strong. Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum all scored 20+ in the game.  Final Score: 117-106, Celtics win.

 

Game 4 was a very close contest all the way through. This ballgame, as many analysts and commentators referred to it as, was truly “The Tyler Herro show.” As the first player born in the 2000s to play in a NBA Conference Finals playoff game, Herro took over on the offensive end in a big way. The rookie scored 37 points, on 14/21 made shots, including 5 nailed three-pointers. To go along with 24 points from Jimmy Butler and another 22 from Dragic, the Heat were able to just close this one out, taking a significant victory to put them up in the series 3-1– a commanding lead.  Final Score: 112-109, Heat win.

 

In Game 5, the Celtics were off to a very poor start in an elimination game for them, shooting miserably in the 1st quarter and putting up only 18 points on the board in the opening frame. However, a 3rd-quarter scoring explosion, led by all-star Jayson Tatum, put Boston out in front. After this 41-point 3rd quarter, there was no looking back for the Celtics, as they ran away with the win.  Final Score:  121-108, Celtics win.

 

Game 6 was an important one for both teams. Miami was looking to close out the series and advance, while Boston was looking to keep its season alive and force a Game 7. Unfortunately for the C’s, they would have no such luck to play another game this season. This battle was very close, neck-and-neck all the way until about the 8-minute mark of the 4th quarter, when the Celtics seemed to finally collapse on both ends of the court. The Heat became scorching hot and began to hit jump shot after jump shot, and Boston could not find a way to stop them. On offense, Boston began to make poor shot decisions and could not find a way to score. In the end, this led to a 12-point Heat win, concluding the Celtics’ season and the series.  Final Score: 125-113, Heat win. Miami wins series 4-2.

 

Despite the losing efforts, the Celtics played hard, and newly-risen superstar Jayson Tatum showed and proved why he deserved to be named an All-Star. Tatum played phenomenally in nearly every playoff game in all three rounds, further establishing himself as a dominant scorer and offensive threat who can pour in 20-30 points easily on any given night. The two other primary scorers for Boston are, of course, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. In these playoffs, this Tatum-Walker-Brown trio has produced in terms of scoring plenty. However, these 3 players are essentially the entire Celtics offense. When one or more of them have an off-night in terms of scoring, the Celtics struggle mightily. Put simply, Boston needs more depth, and specifically a consistent, reliable scorer coming off the Celtic bench. Rest assured, the Celtics will almost unquestionably be back in the NBA Playoffs in 2021, so they will look to make another Finals pursuit next year.

 

For the Miami Heat, this is their first trip back to the NBA Finals since losing to the San Antonio Spurs six years ago back in 2014. Back then, the Heat of course had LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the helm as the team’s stars. This year, they instead have 5X All-Star and clutch scorer Jimmy Butler leading the way. Butler, along with 34 year old Point Guard Goran Dragic, are the established ‘veterans’ of the team. Both Butler and Dragic can score points in bunches when the team needs, and are also great shot-creators when they look to facilitate (pass) the ball. To complement players like Butler and Dragic, the Heat also have young All-Star big man Bam Adebayo, who stuffs the stat sheet every game with tons of rebounds, assists, and steals to go along with his points. Miami’s other primary weapon has been 20-year-old rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro, who can get hot in a hurry and put up plenty of points. Herro has been a fantastic bright spot for the Heat so far this entire season and in the playoffs. With their tremendous overall chemistry, talent, and drive, the Heat were able to put away Tatum and the Celtics and advance to the 2020 Finals.