Miami – For more than four months, after a remarkable turnaround, the Celtics seem determined to continue it. Beyond Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown, two young stars on the team, Boston defeated the Miami Heat 100-96 in the NBA Finals after defeating the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
Boston won the series 4-3 and will face Golden State in the NBA Finals, starting in San Francisco on Thursday. The Warriors, who are trying to revive a dynasty that was on a break, continue their fourth championship in eight seasons. The third-seeded Golden State in the Western Conference will have an advantage at home over the second-seeded Boston, as it had a better record in the regular season, winning 53 games against Boston 51.
The Celtics last won the title in 2008, when many of the best players on this year’s list were elementary school students.
Boston opened the 7th game 9-1, while Miami tried to catch up for the rest of the game. After a quarter, the Celtics led by 15 points and Miami was caught with 17 points, including 6 Butlers. When the heat receded, it was mostly because of Butler. He scored 18 points in the second quarter and helped the Heat take the lead to just six in the first half. But trying to get Heat back was not enough.
Ime Udoka, their first year coach, the Celtics have already prepared their own return story to remember. Only at the end of January did they figure out how to defend, share the ball and win with some consistency.
In the post-season, the Celtics defeated the Smorgasbord of NBA spies and potential contenders: Nets, led by Kairy Irving and Kevin Durant, in the first round; Reigning champions, Milwaukee Bucks, in the conference semifinals; And, for now, the most sown hit that sounds against the backdrop of Celtic pressure.
All this after the Celtics filled the first two months of the regular season with some of the most unpleasant basketball on the East Coast. Forget about competing in the championship: Can they reach the playoffs? They appeared in fierce pursuit of the rock bottom.
The Celtics began to rise in depth in early November when the Chicago Bulls lost the record 2-5 and point defender Marcus Smart used his platform after the game to knock Tetum and Brown into the ball.
By mid-January, the loss to Philadelphia was 21-22, and Joel Embid, the 76ers star center, described Boston as an “ISO heavyweight team” that was easy to defend.
Some of Udoka’s oldest friends even wondered if he could unlock the potential of the team. Kendrick Williams, the youth coach who helped form the Udoka Amateur Athletic Union team in 2006 when Udoka was still patrolling the NBA courts as a power forward, recalled how he communicated with him via text message when the Celtics were in trouble.
“And he said, ‘Man, you know I’m not in a panic. “You know we get it right,” Williams said. “He was so confident, it calmed me down.”
From the start of the training camp and even at an introductory press conference last summer, Udoka stressed the importance of ball movement. This remained one of the main parts of his film sessions as the Celts suffered from increasing pain and this was the message that finally took root.
In mid-February, before the Celtics faced the 76ers again, Udoka reminded his players of the embarrassing remarks. The Celtics came out and beat Philadelphia for the ninth consecutive win by 48 points.
“You can literally see an improvement in ball movement,” said Sixers coach Doc Rivers at the time. “Old Boston is more isos. This Boston rules and plays with each other and that is what makes them so strong. ”
But that was only part of the Celtics winning formula. Under the leadership of Smart, who won the NBA Defender of the Year award, the Celtics emerged as a fierce group of defenders, strengthened by a number of mid-season acquisitions: Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs defender and Daniel Thais. Defensive center from the Houston Rockets, who started his career in Boston.
After winning 28 of their last 35 games to end the regular season, the Celtics spoiled the Nets in the first round of the playoffs with four games. Even before the series ended, Irving was telling reporters that the Celtics window was “now.” After the cleanup, Durant predicted that Boston would have a chance to “do great things.”
Boston and Miami exchanged wins in the first four games of the conference finals, and then the Celtics became the first to win two games. Miami scored 33.3 percent in Game 4, then 31.9 percent in Game 5 – both unilateral defeats. But by spending the season in Game 6, the heat responded. Jimmy Butler scored 47 points on the road in Boston, thus winning the 7th game in Miami.
Along the way with this critical game, the Celtics have revealed a winning game that was worthy of their fans who, not too long ago, saw them at their worst. Now, perhaps, the best is still ahead.