Heat blow out Celtics to reach NBA Finals
Boston was on the cusp of history. But in the end, it was Miami who completed an unlikely run to the National Basketball Association Finals.
Driving the news: The Heat blew out the Celtics, 103-84, in Game 7 on Monday to become just the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals, joining the 1999 New York Knicks.
- The Celtics became the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0, but couldn't become the first to ever win the series (teams are now 0-151 all-time).
- It's the second time in a matter of weeks that Boston has lost a Game 7 at home to a No. 8 seed from Miami. Last month, the top-seeded Boston Bruins fell to the Florida Panthers in the National Hockey League playoffs.
By the numbers: The Heat were founded 35 years ago (1988) and have now reached seven NBA Finals. That’s 20% of all seasons. Team president Pat Riley has had an even wilder run: This will be his 19th NBA Finals appearance as a player, coach or executive. That's 24.7% of all NBA Finals!
What they said: Jimmy Butler predicted this would happen after the Celtics beat the Heat in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference finals. "Next year … we're gonna be right back in this same situation and we're gonna get it done," said Butler, who was named MVP of the series.
- No more home-court advantage: Part of the benefit of earning a high playoff seed is home-court advantage, but that hasn't seemed to matter lately. Entering the 2016 NBA Finals, home teams were 101-24 in Game 7s. Since then, they're 8-11.
- The year of the lower seed: Seven lower-seeded teams have won a series this postseason, the most since the current NBA playoff format began in 1983.
- The legend of Caleb: Caleb Martin's 135 points in the series are the most in a conference or NBA Finals by an undrafted player in the modern draft era (since 1966). Remember when the Charlotte Hornets cut him and kept his twin brother?
- Herro watch: Heat guard Tyler Herro, who hasn't played since breaking his hand in the first round, is expected to make his return during the NBA Finals. Game 3 is the likely target.
- Fun fact: Kevin Love has reached the Finals every time he's been in the playoffs (5-for-5). Four trips came with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and now he's going with the Heat.
Looking ahead: The Nuggets are -360 favorites to win the NBA Finals, per Caesars Sportsbook. Game 1 tips off in Denver on Thursday.