The Miami Heat are one win away from the NBA Finals after a dominating Game 3 victory over the Boston Celtics. After scratching their way into the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the improbable run continues. Game 3 was ugly from the start, as the Celtics looked disinterested and simply lackadaisical compared to the Heat. Miami got solid outings across the board, allowing Jimmy Butler to essentially take the night off. Butler still finished with 16 points, although he was outpaced by Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, and Caleb Martin. Vincent had 29 points, while Robinson had 22 points and Martin had 18 points off the bench. It allowed the Heat to cruise to a victory, setting up a chance to sweep the Celtics in Game 4.
Coming into this season, it would not have been a surprise to expect the Heat to return to the NBA Finals. However, entering the postseason, that would have been a different story. After barely making it through the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament, a date with the No. 1 overall seed Milwaukee Bucks had the Heat looking like long shots. However, they made easy work of them in five games, and are now doing the same to the No. 2 seed Celtics. Game 3 saw the Celtics look like they don’t belong on the same court as the Heat, and it would be safe to say this series is all but over. It would be no surprise if the Heat took Game 4 and finished a sweep of the Celtics, returning to their second NBA Finals in the last four years.
Although it looks likely, there is no guarantee that the Heat take Game 4 and finish the sweep of the Celtics. Nevertheless, here are three bold predictions for the Heat with a chance to reach the NBA Finals.
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*Stats via ESPN
Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler scores 40
Jimmy Butler has looked like the best player in the Eastern Conference in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and it quite frankly has not been very close. In this series, he is thoroughly outplaying Jayson Tatum, showing the Celtics star he has a long way to go in becoming a perennial Finals competitor. In Game 3, the team effort from the Heat allowed Butler to lose some of the slack as he didn’t have to put the team on his back late in the fourth. However, with a chance to sweep in Game 4 and reach the NBA Finals, the Heat’s Jimmy Butler is going to go off for 40 points.
Making it to the NBA Finals is not guaranteed, and Butler certainly does not take this opportunity for granted. That is why he is going to step his game up even with such a comfortable lead, as he wants to ensure the Heat return to the NBA’s biggest stage. Expect Jimmy Butler to be aggressive early, establishing the Heat from the opening tip-off in Game 4 vs. the Celtics. This will culminate in another big postseason performance for Butler with 40 points in Game 4.
Heat hold the Boston Celtics to under 80 points
Earlier this postseason, the New York Knicks held the Cleveland Cavaliers to under 80 points, the first time it had been done in the NBA this season. The Heat are going to be the second team to do so in Game 4 against the Celtics, cementing their place in the NBA Finals. The nature in which the Heat dominated Game 3 has undoubtedly demoralized the Celtics and it would be highly surprising if they showed a substantial amount of life in Game 4. Game 4 will be another blowout win for the Heat, and they will keep the Celtics to under 80 points.
Offensively, the Celtics have not looked like the same ball-club they were during the regular season in this series. The lack of rhythm is apparent with too much reliance on isolation basketball. With such a drastic deficit in this series, they are going to come out flat in Game 4 and sustain a low energy all game. This will give the Heat a resounding edge over the Celtics while they finish the sweep in Game 4 and reach the NBA Finals by holding Boston to under 80 points.
No one plays over 30 minutes for the Heat
With the Heat dominating Game 4 from the start, the need to keep guys in the game will go out the window for Erik Spoelstra. In fact, there will be no players on the Heat that play over 30 minutes in Game 4 against the Celtics. Only three players did so in Game 3, as Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin led the way with 35 minutes. The blowout will be even more substantial in Game 4 and Spoelstra is going to start giving his benchwarmers some run much earlier in the contest. The result will be the highest minute total for any player to still be under 30 minutes.
As the Heat sweep the Celtics in Game 4 and sign their names into this year’s NBA Finals, practically no one on the team will have broken a sweat. The ability to rest a lot of his guys in Game 4 will be a luxury for Spoelstra and he will take advantage as soon as possible. Right now, the Celtics don’t belong in the same conversation as the Heat, and it will be on full display in Boston’s last game of the season. While no one will play over 30 minutes for the Heat in Game 4, no one will for the Celtics either as they waive the white flag. Expect the Heat to reach the NBA Finals in four games over the Celtics in dominating sweep fashion.