NBA Eastern Conference Finals Review
So the NBA Playoffs came to a head with the Eastern Conference Finals. For a look back at how the 2 teams found themselves in this position, read our roundup of all the action – ‘NBA Playoffs Betting Review’
Ok, let’s get into it.
Boston took a healthy lead and kept pressing early on. 7-0 became 16-9 and then the Heat started to pull back. With 2:40 left on the clock in the 1st, the scores were tied 21-21. A little tit-for-tat and the 1st quarter ended 28-25 to Boston.
The 2nd quarter had a similar look and the Celtics found themselves 41-30 up at one point. Again Miami rallied back to within 6 points and the quarter ended 62-54 to Boston.
This is where the wheels came off for the Celtics. Having scored consistently in the game thus far, they managed only 3 points in 7 minutes at the start of the 3rd. Miami passed them by making up the 8-point deficit in 3 mins and the rot was in. Boston were never ahead in the game again. Miami added 39 points in the 3rd. Boston added 14. A total collapse of scoring from one team and solid comeback from the other. Astonishingly, the 3rd ended 76-93 to the Heat.
The teams went back and forth from this point onwards but Boston could never fully recover. They actually won the 4th by 31 points to 25 but the damage was already done. Miami Heat took game 1 by 107-118
1-0 Miami Heat
The 1st quarter of game 2 went back and forth with Miami having the slight edge for the first few minutes. However, there was never more than an 8-point gap between them and it took Boston 9 minutes to take the lead at 23-21. Their recovery was aided by nine 3-point shots (the same number as Miami got in the whole game) and they took the 1st quarter 35-24.
A significant number of free throws and field goals saw Boston double that score by the end of the 2nd, whereas Miami only added another 21 to their tally. This was the beginning of the end already for Miami. The half ended 70-45 to the Celtics.
The 3rd quarter was very even as both teams added 26 points. A slow start from Boston gave the Heat an opportunity to claw their way back but they were not able to do so. Scores went tit-for-tat and left Miami behind by 96-71 going into the final quarter of the game.
Again, scoring was tight. But Boston managed to find their shooting boots once more and the 3-pointers resumed. 5 in the final quarter, backed up by a series of 2-pointers gave them another 31 points and the game finished 127-102 – the widest winning margin of any in the series.
1-1 the series
The start of Game 3 saw an absolute offensive blitz by the Miami Heat and within 3.5 minutes they were already 16-4 ahead. Boston never recovered and were 24-7 down with 4 minutes remaining in the 1st. Even a 2-minute period without points for Miami was not enough to ease their suffering. It ended 39-18 and the dye was already cast.
OR WAS IT?
Things didn’t improve early in the 2nd and the gap actually widened to an alarming 25 points at one juncture. Despite clawing a few back, the difference was back to 25 with 2 mins remaining in the 2nd. Remarkably, Boston reduced that gap to 10 and a comeback (of sorts) was on the cards.
At this point, Miami somehow managed to go over 3 minutes without scoring. In fact, the game was stagnant as Boston only managed 4 points in that time.
For another full 3 minutes that spanned the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd, Miami failed to score a single point. In the same period, Boston grabbed 12 points. That solid ground they had built up in the 1st was starting to look oh-so shaky.
87-72 at the end of the 3rd and Boston must have felt relief that they had stopped the rot.
The 4th quarter went right to the wire. Miami Heat fans’ hearts must have been in their mouths watching a 25-point lead dwindle down to just 6. The last time it had been so slim was in the 3rd minute! They had to endure a period of over 4 minutes’ play without so much as a single point for their team. They hit a couple of field goals and then embarked on yet another period of 4 minutes + with no points. So, that gives us over a quarter of the game in consecutive minutes where Miami failed to record any points. It is almost incomprehensible that they still managed to win.
Miami took the game 109-103
Scoring across the quarters was as follows:
Miami: 39, 21, 25, 22
Boston: 18, 29, 25, 31
Clearly, the 1st quarter onslaught is what defined the game. Remarkable stuff.
2-1 Miami Heat
The start of Game 4 was a continuation of where Game 3 left off.
Although they took an 8-0 lead, Boston fans must have been rueing that it wasn’t more. Once again Miami failed to score a point for over 4 minutes. They hit a single free throw and then went another 4.5 minutes scoreless. This shocking display saw Boston take an 18-1 lead with the gap widening to 22 points shortly thereafter. They led at the end of the 1st quarter 11-29.
The 2nd quarter started scrappily with Boston missing 6 field goal attempts before finally hitting one. Miami weren’t able to capitalize on the misses and only claimed one 3-pointer in that time. Whether frustrated at the lack of scoring or just changing things up tactically, Erik Spoelstra decided to switch out 4/5 players during a timeout 4.5 mins into the quarter.
The incoming players had no impact whatsoever and, apart from a Jimmy Butler 2-pointer, they added no points between them in the next 5 minutes. Only Oladipo scored in that time and he was the only guy that didn’t get replaced during the timeout. The quarter scoring finished at 22-28 to Boston and the scoreline read 33-57.
The 3rd quarter was a low-scoring affair (Miami 19, Boston 17) that saw both teams go for long periods without netting the ball.
In the 4th quarter, Miami finally caught fire briefly and hit 19 points in just over 3 minutes. But the flames soon died down and they reverted to form, hitting only 6 points in the final 5 minutes of the contest and putting no pressure on Boston. The matchup ended 82-102 to Boston.
2-2 the series
In true Miami-style, they scored no points in the first 3.5 mins of the 1st quarter of Game 5. Luckily for them, the Celtics only managed 4 themselves in that time. The scoring went back and forth and the Heat actually took the 1st quarter 17-19.
Boston gave them all the chance they needed to pull away as they spent six seconds shy of 5 minutes at the end of the 1st / start of the 2nd quarter scoring no points. Miami only managed 7 themselves to lead 17-24 and the game was still tight. The quarter took off at this point and both teams added 20 points.
Miami missed 5 shots in 35 seconds at one point and only scores from Butler and Robinson separated those from 4 missed in 30 seconds. And so it went on, the scores remained neck and neck for most of the 3rd. Boston edged it towards the end and led 69-58 going into the 4th.
A flurry of 8 points by Boston prevented them losing this game but they had a period of their own for over 3 minutes without a point in the 4th. Luckily for them, it overlapped a similarly barren period for Miami and they held onto the lead to take the game 93-80
3-2 Boston Celtics
Both teams must have realized the importance of Game 6 and the scoring was much tighter right the way through. In fact, the difference between the 2 teams was never more than 13 points at any juncture.
Miami took the first quarter 29-22 but Boston were tenacious and never let the Heat get too far away from them. In fact, with 3 minutes remaining in the 2nd they pulled level at 40-40.
An excellent 5-minute period in the 3rd saw Miami add 22 points and draw 12-points clear but Boston dragged themselves back once again and it ended 82-75 to Miami.
The 4th quarter was do-or-die for Miami. It must have been torture for fans as the score flip-flopped between the teams and saw them go level 3 times in the last 5 minutes of the game and remain so with only 2 minutes to go.
Boston chose a poor time to go 2 minutes scoreless and it was this that made the difference. Miami added 6 points in that same period and took the game 111-103 to set up the big finale…
3-3 the series
Things started badly for the Heat and they struggled to score 24-9 with 4 minutes remaining in the 1st. A typical scoreless 4 minutes across the end of the 1st and start of the 2nd saw Miami fall 10 points further behind.
Boston missed 12 of 27 shots, giving them .55 on shots in the 1st quarter.
Miami missed 14 of 23 for .39
And therein lies the story of the game. It was almost a microcosm of the whole Eastern Conference Finals.
In spite of the slow start to the 2nd quarter for Miami, they rallied hard and scored a truly impressive 32 points in the 2nd. They restricted Boston to just 23.
55-49 TO BOSTON AT HALFTIME
The Celtics came out strong in the 3rd and added 17 points to Miami’s 9. The Heat rallied and matched Boston to leave the score poised at 82-75 to Boston at the end of the 3rd.
3 barren minutes for the Celtics saw Miami pull back to within 3 points of the leading then off came the wheels. Missed shot followed missed shot. The Heat produced their longest scoreless period of the entire series (and that is really saying something).
With just 3 minutes and 35 seconds of the game remaining, it looked like the Celtics fans could finally breathe a little more easily. So, of course, Miami ran in 11 unanswered points (including a 27ft [8m] 3-pointer from Max Strus) in 2.5 mins to send their blood pressures soaring again.
The scoreline now read 98-96 to Boston and tensions could not have been higher. Hero of the Finals for Miami – Jimmy Butler had already contributed a herculean 35 points when he missed a 28ft 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go. Boston took the rebound and secured 2 free throws shortly thereafter to seal the deal 100-96
Miami were left wondering what might have been. If only they had not gone for 4 mins and 40 seconds of the final quarter of the final game missing 9 shots and increasing their score by not a single point.
It is totally representative of their series overall but that can be of no consolation. Quite the opposite we’re sure.
Although they led from the very beginning, Boston only just survived by the skin of their teeth.
4-3 Boston Celtics
Across the 7 games of the series, both teams had players that shone and went above and beyond to try and affect the outcomes.
Jayson Tatum was awarded the inaugural Larry Bird trophy for Eastern Conference Finals MVP. Not without good reason.
He provided an excellent 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and a block in Game 1. He topped that off with an abysmal 7 turnovers in the game. That’s almost half of the 16 times Boston gave the ball away in the game, and it undoubtedly played a part in their downfall. If a guy has been carrying that much responsibility in a game then it’s hard to criticize him too severely.
He led the scoring in sections of a number of games and was always in the mix with rebounds and assists. During Game 4 he snagged 30 points (leader for Boston) and was joint rebounds leader/field goal percentage leader. Again in Game 5 he was Boston’s best scorer with 26 points.
HE WAS ALSO REBOUND LEADER AND ASSISTS LEADER!
Jimmy Butler stood up to be the most influential player for Miami Heat and must have run Tatum a close thing for MVP. He turned in some seriously elite-level performances with 41 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in Game 1 alone! He had 5 solid games with some other superb scores of 47 points and 35 points along the way.
When watching, it seemed to us here at The Jump Hub that Miami were their own worst enemy when it came to scoring droughts throughout the series. We were seriously surprised to discover that Boston ran them so close in so many of the games. In the end, the Celtics had the longest drought in 3 games, the Heat in 4.
BC: 3:59 – MH: 2:53
BC: 2:54 – MH: 3:29
BC: 2:36 – MH: 4:14
BC: 4:05 – MH: 4:34
BC: 4:55 – MH: 4:16
BC: 3:26 – MH: 3:15
BC: 3:24 – MH: 4:40
When added together, their longest drought periods totaled:
Boston: 25 mins 31 seconds
Miami: 27 mins 10 seconds
If they lacked skill at times and had frustrating periods for both teams, the Eastern Conference Finals did not disappoint in terms of excitement and drama.
Unless you’re a Miami Heat fan of course…