Jaylen Brown said before Game 4, “Don’t let us win tonight.”
Well, Brown had a pretty good feeling – his Boston Celtics just forced a Game 7 against the Miami Heat with an instant classic after trailing 3-0 in this series.
Boston, the number-one seed in the Eastern Conference, lost the first three games of the Finals to the Heat, who have had a Cinderella run as the No. 8 seed.
Now, the Celtics are one win away from history, and the Heat are one loss away from Cinderella turned disappointment.
After Jimmy Butler knocked down three free throws to give the Heat a one-point lead with 3.0 seconds left, Derrick White inbounded to Marcus Smart, who bricked a three, but White followed the shot, and his tip-in just narrowly beat the buzzer by a tenth of a second to send the series back to Boston, as Boston earned the 104-103 victory.
With just over eight-and-a-half minutes left, Duncan Robinson hit a deep three to bring Miami to within one. After Boston missed a shot, Jimmy Butler’s tip-in gave Miami, who trailed by as many as 13, their first lead since it was 11-9.
Boston responded with an 16-5 run to bring their lead back to double digits, but Miami, mainly Butler, was able to make it a one-point game with less than a minute to go.
After Jayson Tatum missed a layup, Robinson missed a three that would have sent Miami into a madhouse. Smart made one of two free throws, and Miami had the ball with the shot clock off down two.
With 3.0 seconds left, Al Horford fouled Butler on a three-pointer, sending him to the line for a chance to give Miami the lead. Butler knocked down all three, and the Heat were up one.
Butler was seen on the bench telling his team they need “one stop.”
He was wrong – they needed two.
White scored 11 points, but none more important than the final two of the game. Tatum had 31 points, Brown had 26, and Smart added 21. Both Tatum and Brown had 10 rebounds each.
Butler struggled from the floor, knocking just five of his 21 attempts. He did knock down 12 free throws to finish with 24 points.
One hundred fifty-one teams have trailed 3-0 in an NBA series. The Celtics are the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing three games to none, and the first since the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers. They had lost their first three games to the Dallas Mavericks, but the Mavs came away with the Game 7 victory despite losing the previous three. All three teams to force Game 7 were visitors. Boston will host Game 7 on Monday night.
With a win in Game 7, the Celtics would be the first team in NBA history to win a series after losing the first three games. It’s happened four times in the NHL, but Boston isn’t all that unfamiliar with historic comebacks.
The only team to do it in Major League Baseball history was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who came back against their arch rival New York Yankees and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.