The NBA Conference Finals are underway as the Eastern Conference Final continues on Saturday night. The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat will meet for Game 3 on September 19. These two teams have played in two tight games so far, which should lead to another good one. This game will tip off at around 8:30 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
The Celtics finished out the regular season with a record of 48-24. This put Boston in third place of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics faced the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round and eliminated them in a four game sweep. Boston then knocked off the Toronto Raptors in seven games. The Celtics need to earn a win in Game 3 to avoid a 3-0 deficit.
Miami earned a record of 44-29 throughout the regular season, which put them in fifth place of the Eastern Conference. The Heat met up with the Indiana Pacers in the first round and knocked them off in four games. Miami then knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. Now the Heat can take a 3-0 series lead with a win in Game 3.
These two teams met in a great Game 1 and 2, but the Heat were able to sneak off huge wins in both of the matchups. The Celtics are now in desperation mode, which should bump up the intensity in Game 3. I expect Boston to come out hot as they try and earn a big win. If the Celtics can control this game throughout, it should lead to a Boston win.
The Heat and the Celtics met up three times throughout the regular season. Boston won the first two games during the regular season by scores of 112-93 and 109-101. The third game of the regular season was in the bubble on August 4. Miami was able to finally break through on the Celtics, winning 112-106 to help boost their spot in the standings.
Game 1 of this series was back on September 15. Jayson Tatum dropped 30 points and 14 rebounds. Marcus Smart added 26 points, but it still was not enough. Goran Dragic dropped 29 points, while Jae Crowder scored another 22 points. Jimmy Butler added 20 points as the Heat were able to pull away with a 117-114 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
The second game of the series was back on September 17. Kemba Walker dropped 23 points, while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both dropped 21 points. It still was not enough for the Celtics though. Goran Dragic finished with 25 points, while Bam Adebayo scored 21 points and 10 rebounds. Miami took a 2-0 series lead with a 106-101 win in Game 2.
The Heat have been able to win three straight games against Boston with all three wins coming in the bubble. The Celtics have struggled to close out these last two games, leading down the stretch. Boston needs to hold onto their lead in this one with their bench players. If the Celtics defense can step up late in this one, it could help Boston earn a big win.
Field Goal Shooting
The Celtics have struggled from the field throughout this postseason. Boston has made around 45.3 percent of their shots from the field in the playoffs. The Celtics have also made 34.3 percent of their shots from deep, which is not great. In this series, Boston has made 46.9 percent of their shots from the field and 35.7 percent from behind the arc.
Miami’s field goal shooting has been solid throughout the playoffs. The Heat have been able to sink around 46 percent of their shots from the field in this postseason run. Miami has also made 38 percent of their shots from deep. The Heat have also shot 45.7 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep in this series alone.
Boston’s defense has been a big part of their playoff run, but it will need to step up a bit in this series. The Celtics are shooting better from the field, but Miami has been better behind the arc. Boston needs to close out on the Heat’s shooters from deep, especially later in the game. If the Celtics can clean up their perimeter play in this one, it could give them the win.
Jayson Tatum has been the leader for the Celtics in this playoff run. Tatum has averaged 25.5 points per game and 10 rebounds. Jaylen Brown is averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Kemba Walker has averaged 20 points per game, while Marcus Smart is averaging 14 points per game to help round out the lineup.
Goran Dragic has stepped up in a big way for the Heat throughout this playoff run. Dragic is averaging 22 points per game. Jimmy Butler has averaged 21 points per game in this postseason. Bam Adebayo is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyler Herro has averaged 14 points per game off the bench. Jae Crowder is averaging 13.5 points per game and Duncan Robinson has averaged 11 points per game.
These two teams have seen their starting lineups step up throughout this playoff run, which has helped lead them to the Conference Finals. The Celtics could also have Gordon Hayward return for Game 3 after missing all but one game this playoff run. Hayward would be a huge addition to this lineup as they try to comeback from behind in this series.
The Heat have earned two impressive come from behind wins in the last two games, but I believe they will run out of luck in Game 3. I expect the Celtics to make adjustments on the perimeter defense and the addition of Hayward would help this a lot. Boston has been good throughout this postseason and I think they will cut this series deficit down to 2-1.
BetOnline has the Celtics listed as a -3 against the spread in this one. This gives a slight edge to Boston in Game 3 of this series. I agree with this slight edge as the Celtics are going to be coming out hard to avoid a 3-0 series deficit. All signs point to Hayward returning, which will really help them earn a win on Saturday night.