Celtics’ Brad Stevens Explains Why Heat Were The Better Team

Getty Images Brad Stevens reacts during the first quarter against the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals

For the third time in four tries, Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics’ season came to an end in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Miami Heat topped the Celtics 125-113 in Game 6 Sunday night, sending Boston home with plenty to think about in the wake of a disappointing finish to what was a very promising year while the Heat advance to the NBA Finals to take on the Los Angeles Lakers. But in the end, when it mattered most, the Heat outplayed the Celtics.

They were tougher and Boston was outmatched in crucial moments. It was an ongoing pattern throughout their best-of-7 and in the fourth quarter of Game 6, after the Celtics claimed a six-point lead, it was Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo – Miami’s biggest edge in the series – and rookie Tyler Herro who took matters into their own hands.

Herro (11) and Adebayo combined for 21 of Miami’s whopping 37 fourth-quarter points while the two took turns swapping transition buckets and creating defensive stops. Brad Stevens’ offense collapsed within minutes.

Daniel Theis fouled out, the Celtics turned the ball over, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum’s 25-footers clanked off the rim before Herro’s t topped a 12-2 Heat run. With 3:21 left to play, the Celtics all of a sudden went from holding a two-possession lead to trailing by 10 points (102-112).

Bam Adebayo’s Fourth-Quarter Impact

Adebayo finished with a game-high 32 points, 14 rebounds and Herro’s 19 points on 8-of-13 led the bench.

“After we had the lead, Adebayo, and credit all of them, but Adebayo deciding he’s just going to drive the ball put us in a real bind with shooters around him,” Stevens explained. “Their physicality is something that I’m not sure we probably talked about enough. They’re strong, they’re physical, they’re tough, and him in particular, dominated that fourth quarter. Even (in) the plays that he didn’t score, his presence was impactful – it put us in a real bind with the ability to guard him.”

Brad Stevens:’They’re The Best Team In The East’

That toughness was unmatched by the Celtics, who Stevens says were defeated by a better team.

“Miami deserves a lot of credit,” Stevens said. “They’re super physical, super tough, very, very savvy. I think they’re the best team in the East and deserve to be representing the East in the way that they have played.”

Stevens also added that while the Celtics played tough at times throughout the series, it was the Heat that out-muscled his team down the stretch of games.

“I thought we did a lot of tough things, too,” Stevens added. “I thought our guys tried to play physical. I thought our guys tried to do that but I think that ultimately it’s more a credit to them. It’s nothing against our guys at all. They gave it everything they had. Again, I think Miami has been great. We just, for whatever reason, it was really a myriad of reasons if you look at the four or five close games, we just couldn’t solve them late.”

Was that the difference in the series?

“I think they’re terrific and I think we didn’t play as well in those spots,” Stevens replied. “I think that they just deserve a lot of credit because super team, super coach. They’re really good. They’re going to be a handful.”

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat tips off Wednesday night.

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