May 30, 2023 - Sports

Heat blow out Celtics to reach NBA Finals

heat celebrate winning eastern conference

Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

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.

Field notes:

  • 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.

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