In a stunning turn of events, the Miami Heat extinguished the Boston Celtics’ hopes of a miraculous comeback, bringing an end to their season of living dangerously. The Heat, defying expectations as the eighth-seeded team, regrouped after losing three consecutive games to dominate Game 7 with a resounding 103-84 victory on the road. The Celtics, who fought valiantly to stay alive, ultimately fell victim to the same shortcomings that had plagued them throughout the series.
Reflecting on the game, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon acknowledged the challenge of overcoming a 0-3 deficit, admitting that no team has ever climbed out of such a hole. Unfortunately for Boston, their efforts to reverse the tide were in vain as they couldn’t overcome the deficit they had created for themselves.
While Jimmy Butler’s overall playoff performance earned him recognition, it was Miami’s undrafted gem, Caleb Martin, who stood out in the Eastern Conference finals. Martin’s contributions were invaluable to the Heat’s success, especially when Butler faced mid-series struggles. Whenever Miami needed a crucial basket against Boston, Martin stepped up. In Game 7, he scored an impressive 26 points on 16 shots, displaying remarkable efficiency without even attempting a free throw. Additionally, Martin collected 10 rebounds, solidifying his impact on both ends of the court. By the end of the series, he had set a record for an undrafted player in a Conference final, tallying a total of 132 points.
Martin’s journey to the NBA is a testament to his resilience and determination. Initially signed as a free agent by the Charlotte Hornets after playing for the University of Nevada, he was later waived before finding a spot with the Miami Heat on a two-way contract in 2021. His performance in the playoffs exemplifies the Heat’s ability to surpass expectations collectively.
After stunning the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Heat continued their underdog narrative. As they prepare for the NBA finals, which begin on Thursday, they face the formidable challenge of the well-rested Denver Nuggets, who have displayed dominance in the Western Conference playoffs.
However, recent history suggests that underestimating the Heat could prove costly for the Nuggets. The Celtics learned this the hard way by initially failing to respect Miami’s capabilities, leading to their own downfall. Had they performed up to expectations from the start, they may not have had to embark on an unprecedented comeback reminiscent of the 2004 Boston Red Sox in MLB.
Heading into Game 7, the memories of past miracles seemed to make a Boston victory nearly inevitable. The Celtics had the advantage of playing at home in TD Garden, making them heavy favorites. Yet, the Heat defied the narrative and refused to succumb to the pressure being placed upon them.
While the ankle injury suffered by Jayson Tatum early in the game undoubtedly impacted the Celtics’ performance, limiting him to just 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, the team needed a standout performance from Jaylen Brown in his absence. Unfortunately, Brown struggled, committing eight turnovers and going 1-for-9 from three-point range. His performance raises questions about his long-term future with the team as he enters free agency after the next season.
Ultimately, the Celtics’ downfall can be traced back to the first two games of the series. Despite having home court advantage against the eighth-seeded Heat, Boston lost both games. Moreover, their lackluster record at TD Garden in recent postseasons (11-12) raises concerns about their ability to perform consistently in crucial moments.
While the Heat have continuously exceeded expectations, making their second NBA finals appearance in four seasons, the Celtics have experienced a reversal of fortune
. This season, in particular, they developed a reputation for lapses in effort and concentration, leading to in-game collapses and baffling no-shows. Talent alone cannot always compensate for these shortcomings when there is no margin for error or bad luck.
As the Celtics confront the disappointing end to their season, the undrafted Caleb Martin and the resilient Miami Heat serve as a reminder that defying the odds requires unwavering determination and the ability to thrive in adverse circumstances.