Marcus Smart warned us. Jaylen Brown did, too. Somehow, some way, the Boston Celtics' green heart is still beating—and they needed every tenth of a second to stay alive. With their miraculous 104-103 victory over the Miami Heat, the Celtics finds themselves on the brink of NBA history by becoming the first team ever to complete the most impossible of comebacks and overcome a 0-3 series deficit in the NBA Playoffs.
Derrick White was the man of the moment for Celtics Nation after his heroic tip-in salvaged Boston's season to force a Game 7 at TD Garden on Monday. White's game-winner left the entirety of Kaseya Center in utter shock, as they saw the Heat's 3-0 Eastern Conference Finals series lead vanish into thin air.
So, how did Jayson Tatum and the Celtics, in fact, get it done? How did they get to the precipice of NBA history with their miraculous comeback versus the Heat? Let's take a look.
For all intents and purposes, the Celtics looked absolutely dead in the water after that 26-point beatdown the Heat gave them in Game 3. Miami looked ready to finally put the nail in the coffin when they went up 56-50 at the half of Game 4.
And then, Boston found life in the third quarter. They outscored Miami 38-23, went 14-of-23 from the field and connected on seven of their 12 three-point attempts in that period.
More importantly, Tatum made his presence felt. The Celtics superstar rediscovered exactly who he claimed to be: humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world.
Tatum dropped 14 points in that period, going 6-of-8 from the field and draining two triples. He finally found the rhythm he had been longing for throughout the series, especially since he just came off a horrible 14-point dud in Game 3, when he shot just 6-of-18 from the field and 1-of-7 from deep.
That momentum carried into the fourth, where Tatum scored 11 points to close the deal and keep the Celtics alive. He finished with 34 points in Game 4, with 25 coming in the second half.
Going back to a raucous TD Garden crowd, Boston proceeded to steamroll the Heat en route to a 110-97 win. There's no other way to describe this than a good old classic Beantown Beatdown.
The final score wasn't really indicative of how Boston dominated the game. Four Celtics players scored at least 20 points, led by Derrick White's 24 points and Marcus Smart's 23 points. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both tallied 21 points, with the former putting together an all-around game with eight rebounds and 11 assists.
As a team, the Celtics finally found their rhythm. They went 16-of-39 from beyond the arc, with White and Smart combining for 10 triples. More importantly, the No. 2 rated defense that dominated the regular season was back. They were in Miami's passing lanes throughout the night, tallying 13 steals and forcing Miami to 16 turnovers.
That leads us to Game 6…
Honestly, this has to be up there in shortlist of craziest NBA Playoff games of all time.
The Celtics were actually in control of this game throughout and looked well on their way to Game 7 with a comfortable victory. They led by six points at halftime and entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead. They essentially had Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in jail, holding them to just 5-of-28 shooting after three quarters.
Then, Boston almost blew it—several times, even.
They left Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson wide open twice within the last two minutes. They were certainly fortunate that those shots did not go down, or else we would probably be talking about a Denver Nuggets-Miami Heat NBA Finals right now.
Still, holding a precarious two-point lead with 16.2 seconds left, Boston's season was hanging by the thinnest of threads. Then Al Horford fouled Jimmy Butler on a three-point shot attempt to put the Heat superstar on the foul line for three shots.
Despite struggling with his shot throughout the game, Butler came alive in the fourth quarter, leading his team's charge with 15 points. Butler made all three free throws to give the Heat the lead with one game-sealing stop separating them from the NBA Finals. The Celtics were essentially on life support, three seconds away from flying back to Boston, not to play a Game 7, but to book at trip to Cancun.
With one final hurrah, Marcus Smart sprung free for a tough three on the left wing. The shot went in, and then out. In that moment, time stopped for just split second. And that split second was all they needed. Derrick White flew in to bank in the tip-in. The officials reviewed it. The Celtics were miraculously still alive.
More alive than ever and gearing up for another potential doozy in Game 7 in Boston.