The Miami Heat were three seconds away from reaching the 2023 NBA Finals. What happened in those last three seconds though after Jimmy Butler gave Miami the lead at the free-throw may wind up costing the Heat their season.
After a missed 3-pointer to try and win the game by Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Boston's Derrick White came out of nowhere to grab the offensive rebound and tap the ball in with just about 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock as the ball left his hand to win the game. Boston has now won three straight games to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, something that Butler claimed shouldn't have even happened.
“As good or as bad as we played tonight, we still lost so we got a job to do at the end of the day and we will pull this thing together,” Butler said after the game, via NBA on TNT. “Like I told the guys on the bench, I told the guys in the locker room, that if I play better we're not even in this position, honestly speaking. And I will be better and that's what makes me smile because those guys follow my lead.
“When I am playing, I think we are playing better as a whole.”
Butler finished Game 6 in Miami with 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and a steal, but a lot of his points came late in this game. Entering the fourth quarter, Butler had just nine points on 2-16 shooting from the floor. Getting to the free-throw line late, Miami's star supplied his team with their final 10 points of the game.
Losing three straight games after leading the Celtics 3-0 in this series is definitely not ideal, but the Heat are familiar with this position. Just last season, these two teams met in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami, a game the Celtics won by only four points.
All the momentum in this series is heading back to Boston with the Celtics, yet the Heat are still more than capable of winning this series. It takes four wins to advance to the 2023 NBA Finals and on Monday night, Butler and the Heat will be looking to bounce back and win this series on the road.