The Boston Celtics became just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 0-3 in a best-of-seven postseason series. Unfortunately, they also become the 151 team to fall short of successfully coming back from such a deficit, as they fell to the Miami Heat Monday evening by a final score of 103-84.
Though their efforts ultimately weren’t enough to punch their ticket to a second consecutive Finals berth, they certainly went on to gain the respect of Jimmy Butler, who, during his post-game media session, praised the C’s and suggested that they’ll be a contender for many more years to come.
“I’m not going to say losing three in a row is part of the Heat culture that we like to talk about because we don’t play to lose, we don’t want to lose. They’re an incredible team over there and they will be for a while,” Jimmy Butler said.
Butler has voiced rather positive opinions about this Celtics team on numerous occasions throughout this year’s third-round series, with a recent example being when he noted he’s “got a lot of respect” for Marcus Smart.
The Eastern Conference Finals MVP put forth a stellar showing against Boston during Miami’s close-out victory, as he registered 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals while shooting 42.9% from the field and 42.9% from deep.
Erik Spoelstra Credits Celtics for Miami’s ‘Different Level’
Though the Celtics and Heat have gone on to forge a rather significant new-age rivalry throughout the past two decades, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra couldn’t help but give Boston credit for their efforts and impact on this series as he praised the franchise for being “first class” during the post-Game 7 trophy presentation.
“We do want to tip our hats to the Boston Celtics and their organization. They are first class and they made us get better. Last year was extremely painful. We thought about it all season long and if you don’t have an opponent like that to bring you to a different level, sometimes you don’t get there,” Erik Spoelstra said of the Celtics.
Since 2020, Boston and Miami have met in the Eastern Conference Finals on three separate occasions. With Monday’s victory, the Heat hold the winning record in these head-to-head bouts 2-1.
Malcolm Brogdon Calls Out Celtics Following Game 7 Loss
To anyone who watched the Celtics throughout this year’s Eastern Conference Finals run, it was rather apparent that the deciding factor in virtually every game’s outcome related to the club’s defensive production.
During his post-game media session following Game 7, Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon was asked by a reporter how big an issue their inconsistent play on the less glamorous side of the ball was for Boston where, in response, he noted that it was “THE” main element in their ultimate demise.
“I think this was a team last year that prided themselves on defense. I think defense was our calling card. This year offense was our calling card. I don’t think you win championships with a better offense than you have a defense. I think, pretty much, we were the best offensive team in the league… Defensively, I thought we had the versatility, I thought we had the talent defensively but on any given night we would just let go of the rope and have a lot of breakdowns on that end,” Malcolm Brogdon said.
During the regular season, the Celtics found themselves finishing with the second-best defensive rating in the entire league at 110.6.
Unfortunately, their level of play seemed to fall off under the bright lights of the postseason, as they dipped to seventh-worst at 112.9 and, against the Miami Heat, saw this number plummet all the way to 116.6.