The Celtics nearly died by the three, but Derrick White had other plans.
In an absolute thriller, the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 104-103 on a buzzer beater putback layup. They’ve evened the Eastern Conference Finals three games to three.
Mazzulla's thought when he found out the basket was good: "Game 7."
— Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) May 28, 2023
This was not a pretty game for Boston, who suffered their worst three-point shooting night of the season and let Miami back into the game several times. After a defensive breakdown down the stretch, the game — and the season — came down to one play. With three seconds left and trailing by one, Marcus Smart’s hurried catch-and-shoot three rimmed out right to Derrick White, who flipped it back off the glass as time expired. It’s an improbable result for a team that looked completely dead one week ago, but it’s a testament to how hard Boston has fought since going down 3-0.
A MIRACLE IN MIAMI!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/9DNGGHYP0L
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) May 28, 2023
White was the hero, but for the most part, Boston’s stars led the way to victory. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (who did have a rough second half) combined for 57 points on 17-37 shooting, and each finished with a double-double. Marcus Smart also had three strong quarters from long range, and finished with 21 points.
For Miami, this loss isn’t just gutting because of the buzzer beater finish. The Heat, who stormed back multiple times to erase double-digit Celtic leads, basically did it without their two best players. Jimmy Butler began the 4th quarter shooting just 2-15 from the field, and Bam Adebayo was invisible everywhere but the offensive glass. Though Butler was the one who sparked the late run and hit three massive free throws to give Miami the lead, it’s worth wondering how this game would’ve gone if the Heat got just a little more out of those two.
Butler, miraculously, led the team in scoring with 24 points, but the entire cast of role players on the Heat contributed throughout the night and kept them within striking distance. Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent in particular had strong nights, finishing with 21 and 15 points respectively.
For the fourth time in NBA history, a team down 3-0 in a Playoff series has forced a Game 7. For the first time ever, that team will be playing at home. The Celtics and Heat will face off in what’s sure to be a Game 7 for the ages on Monday night at TD Garden.