With three seconds left in the game and leading the Boston Celtics by one point, the Miami Heat were on the verge of being in the NBA Finals. A game is never over until it is over though and with maybe 0.1 seconds left on the clock, Celtics guard Derrick White tipped in a missed shot and won Game 6 for the Celtics.
After trailing the Heat 3-0 in this series, the Celtics have now won three straight games to force a winner takes all scenario in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season. This series has been a roller coaster ride and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the wildness after his team's heartbreaking loss, claiming that the Heat will be ready to play in the final game before the NBA Finals begin.
“Max did the right thing by making that ball go anywhere than Jayson Tatum,” Spoelstra said after the game, via NBA on TNT. “Ideally you'd think, you'd hope, you do the right things. That thing just bounced a different way, it's the only place it could've bounced to hurt us… Look, this is the way this season has been. This is one hell of a series and at this time right now, I don't know how we are going to get this done, but we are going to go up there and get it done.”
The way the Heat lost Game 6 on their home floor with an NBA Finals appearance within their grasp is certainly agonizing for this franchise, but the the idea of “first to four wins” still remains for both teams. Miami won three straight and now Boston has won three straight. Whoever wants to win Game 7 more will ultimately represent the Eastern Conference in this year's Finals and Spoelstra is ready to go.
“There's been nothing easy about this season for our group and so we just have to do it the hard way,” Spoelstra went on to say. “That's just the way it's got to be for our group. We wish we could tip this thing off right now. Right now, we want to tip this thing off and let's play another 48 minutes, but we will wait 48 hours and do this thing in Boston.”
The good news for Miami is that the have faced this very scenario before. Just last season, these two teams met in the conference finals and a Game 7 was played in Miami. The Celtics ultimately came away with the 100-96 victory to advance to the NBA Finals, but this year could potentially be a different story.
Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson have really stepped up for the Heat in recent games and despite both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo struggling in Game 6, Miami had a chance to win the game late.
If they can get the production they are used to from their stars and the same kind of production from their secondary talents, the Heat have what it takes to bounce back from last year's disappointing loss. Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals will be played on Monday night with a ticket to the NBA Finals on the line.