BOSTON — In a 103-84 rout of their hosts in Game 7, Butler and Martin combined for 54 points, securing their second trip to the NBA Finals in four years, where they will face the Denver Nuggets.
Martin, an undrafted free agent who was released by the Charlotte Hornets 21 months earlier, lost to Butler, a six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA pick, 5-4, in the vote for the Eastern Conference finals MVP title.
After the Miami Heat’s surprising victory over the Boston Celtics through the Eastern Conference finals, the Slim Thug song “Who the mo…ing boss?” boomed through the locker room doors. Jimmy Butler is the m…ing boss, his teammates retorted, reverberating down the tunnels beneath TD Garden.
A Heat staff sent Caleb Martin a Gatorade cup with their preferred shot behind those same doors. Martin sipped from a Pacifico while they exchanged toasts and tossed back their homemade snifters before bopping his head to the music blasting from Udonis Haslem’s Bluetooth speaker.
“I’m just confident,” said Butler, who finished the seventh game with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. “I know the effort we all put out, therefore I am aware of our potential. Nobody is content. We haven’t taken any action. We compete to win the whole league, not just the Eastern Conference.
Martin, who signed for the mid-level exception last summer and joined the Heat on a two-way deal in September 2021, continued, “I defiantly reflect on where I started and the journey it’s taken to get here.”
“But more than anything, it’s a strange sensation because, despite how glad and thrilled I am to be here, I am also aware that there are four more to come. It is not yet finished. We didn’t experience what we did for the entire season, and my personal journey didn’t end here. We have four more as we work to obtain our goal for coming here”.
The essence of Heat culture, a once-derided but now-undeniable mentality built from a roster full of long shots and castaways who never stop believing, can be found somewhere along the spectrum that connects those players.
Miami became the second No. 8 seed in league history to make it to the Finals thanks to that trust, and the first to do it in a season without a lockout and after falling behind in a second play-in playoff game.
“Life comes at you fast, man,” said Heat forward Kevin Love, a five-time All-Star who was released by the Cleveland Cavaliers in February and will soon make his sixth Finals trip in his career”.
Love, 34, said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. It has just been a lovely thing to become a part of this squad and this locker room. Fortune and momentum can change in sports, just as in life. It has truly been fantastic.
One year to the day after the Celtics won Game 7 of the 2022 conference finals in Miami by a margin of 23 points, the Heat paid it forward.
They raced out to a 22-15 lead in the first quarter and then never trailed for the remaining of the game until the end of the game.
Though, for the third time in the series, they made 50% of their long-range shots (14 of 28 3P), matching the amount of times they did it throughout their 44-win regular season.
Erik Spoelstra, the Heat coach, stated that “what happened last year was obviously on our minds, and it drove us this year.” “With competition, you always expect that it would push you to a greater level. I believe that’s what you witnessed in this season of the show, having to overcome a lot of obstacles.
The Celtics too had history waiting for them on Monday, but they abandoned their tasks undone. Boston became the first club to host a Game 7 to end the 0-150 losing skid for teams in that circumstance and the fourth NBA team to ever force one after falling down 3-0 in a series.
On Saturday, when Derrick White’s game-winning tip-in in Game 6 may have destroyed most teams, one miracle necessitated another. not the Heat, though.
“The loss was heartbreaking. Trust me,” said Haslem, the 42-year-old Heat captain, when asked about his team’s reaction to Saturday’s loss. Haslem will be making his eighth trip to the Finals in his 20th and final season.
We needed a little time to regain our equilibrium, but we already had another game. We have a second chance to travel to Boston and compete in Game 7. What better chance to win a Game 7 away from home than Boston Garden?
On the very first play of the game on Monday, Jayson Tatum of the Celtics twisted his ankle while driving past Martin and into Gabe Vincent. In his remaining 41 minutes on the court, he only made one of the two free throws and never recovered. Boston wasn’t either.
“I was a shell of myself,” Tatum said. “Moving was challenging.”
Marcus Smart, one of nine Celtics to shoot less than 50% from the field (4-of-10 FG), said, “The ankle was really killing him.” He attempted to fight. It just didn’t work out for him. It didn’t work out well for any of us.
Miami turned an 11-8 deficit into a 7-point lead at the conclusion of the first quarter when Tatum first walked to the bench to rest his swollen left ankle. The Heat won the remaining round of the battle via knockout.
Tatum only managed 14 points on 13 attempts. The Celtics next went to Jaylen Brown, who was a co-star with Tatum and had an appalling game that concluded with as many turnovers (8) as scored field goals (8-of-23).
“Just a terrible game when my team needed me the most,” Brown remarked. “JT injured his ankle during the game’s opening play, and you could see it swell up on him. He was unable to move outside.
He found it to be difficult,”I failed when my team looked to me to make plays. I stumbled. It’s hard. Credit to Miami, but the work is awful”.
Merely White offered them cause for optimism after a first half in which they were fortunate to merely be down 52-41. Early in the third quarter, he scored 8 points in a row to get the Celtics within 8.
They couldn’t get much closer than 71-64 with only a minute remaining in the third. The gap returned to double digits after two missed calls in the subsequent 50 seconds—Bowler stepping out of bounds before a Martin 3-pointer and Martin double-dribbling into a jumper.
Boston opened the fourth quarter poorly. Martin responded with another three after Tatum missed a layup early on. The officials failed to call an offensive foul on Brown’s subsequent layup over Bam Adebayo.
Butler hit an 18-footer in return. Butler forced Brown’s seventh error, then sprinted for a dunk to give his team an 83-66 advantage.
He could scarcely get back on defense until a Tatum dunk halted the bleeding five plays later. The eighth-seeded Miami comeback is here to take the place of the Celtics’ series comeback.
At once painful and joyful, this was sport at its best.
The Celtics shot only 9 of their 42 attempts from beyond the arc (21.4%), committed 15 mistakes that led to 21 Miami points, missed many defensive substitutions, and slacked off in front of several screens to let the hot-shooting Heat get easy shots.
Boston’s Grant Williams led his teammates into the tunnel as the final buzzer rang, asking aloud, “Not gonna play hard in a Game 7?” Tatum, who was hobbling from one half of the corridor to the other, trailed behind him, his head obscured by a towel from the Game 6 hero.
The Heat would shortly break open their celebration beers in the visitors’ locker room, which was located between them.
After a victory in Game 7, Love stated of the first drink, “Tastes great.” The best ever.