Celtics vs Heat: Boston is one win away from the NBA Finals, is the team over Miami?

After two of their most rotten offensive performances of the season, Miami Heat They face elimination on the way. Jimmy Butler hits 7-for-32 in Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, duo Kyle Lowry and Max Strauss hits 1-for-28. Butler plays through a sore knee, Lowry plays through a hamstring injury and 6th Man of the Year Tyler hasn’t played Hiro due to a thigh injury. Does heat ripen?

I’ll get to that. First, I’d like to talk about Boston Celtics Goalkeeper Derek White. In Boston’s 93-80 win on Wednesday, White scored 14 points in a 6-for-8 shootout, with five assists, two steals, and a block in an instrumental 29 minutes. Alhorford said he was “incredible”. Jaylen Brown went with “awesome” and “essential.” White, who was acquired on the trading deadline from Tottenham in February, is more of a bench player than his qualifications, the kind who can swing a game or series.

White started as Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart on Monday in Game 4, and coach Im Odoka said the opportunity gave him a spark that moved into Game 5. White made transitional plays for himself and others. He made plays as a roll man and as a bouncer. He made easy shots, made several tough shots, and was on the field throughout Boston’s 24-2 break, which began late in the third quarter and lasted just over six minutes.

“He will have a weaker defender with him [Brown] And the [Jayson Tatum] “Sort of a blanket,” Odoka said. “He can capitalize on those. A brilliant scorer, driver, starter and one of our best players at making quick decisions, going downhill and running plays. And so we trusted him to do that, he’s tapped into some double teams in Jayson and he’s really good at being behind. We trust him to get the ball in the middle. , whether he has a float, pull up, or find players on the ocean.”

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The Heat also provided a backup on Wednesday: Gabe Vincent scored 15 points in a 6-for-12 shootout, as well as assists and steals in 23 minutes. Vincent made several jumps, including a step back 2 over Smart that saved a bad possession before the Celtics got their way.

However, the most significant difference between Vincent and White points to Boston’s biggest advantage over the Heat. White is an exceptional defender by the length of the guard’s wings, while Vincent is too young to handle the likes of Brown and Tatum. Three times in the third quarter of Game 5, one of the Celtics’ biggest and strongest wingers went against Vincent and dropped a mid-range jump. On the fourth, Tatum took him to the post and climbed into class.

When it was winning time, Odoka reduced the Celtics’ rotation to seven players: Novices, Wyatt and versatile Grant Williams. After playing 25 minutes into Game Five, Payton Pritchard, who has the same defensive limitations as Vincent, only played six, all in the first half. This was possible because, for the first time in the series, all Boston players were available. When neither Pritchard nor Daniel Theiss are on the ground, there is no clear weak link to the attack.

That doesn’t explain Miami’s 59.8 points per 100 semi-court holdings on Wednesday, according to Cleaning The Glass. This does not mean that the Celtics are unbeatable. But freedom from weak ties is what allows the best defensive teams to lock up their opponents’ pet games and make them work for every little advantage they can get. There is no easy money.

“I think the mental stress and pressure we put on some teams with our defense has worked and carried us through qualifying at times,” said Odoka. “I’ve seen it on the Brooklyn series, guys are starting to wear off. Game 7, it looked like [Giannis] Antetokounmpo slowed some. But just having all those corpses to keep throwing at people exhausts them both physically and mentally, which makes it difficult. As long as we don’t give them easy baskets in transition.”

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Through five conference finals, the Heat have scored 102.3 points per 100 possessions in non-dismissed minutes, per CTG, meaning the Boston have made their offensive worse than any team had in the regular season. That number drops to 84.2 per 100 on the half-court, which would have also been ranked dead this season. Neither number is significantly different from a number Milwaukee Bucks He succeeded (102.1 per 100, 81.9 per 100) in seven games against the Celtics, though.

(Side note: For all discussions of Kevin Durant’s offensive struggles during Boston’s first-round sweep, the Brooklyn Networkswho scored 116.9 points per 100 ownership and 97.6 per 100 on the half-court, fared significantly better than Milwaukee and Miami.)

The Heat needed to play with massive physical strength, force inversions, push the ball and smash glass to survive with Boston. It’s hard to live that way for an entire series. As soon as the Celtics stopped dribbling and coughing in traffic on Wednesday, they parted themselves and put Miami on edge.

Will the heat ripen? It sure looked like that when Boston, the most complete team in the NBA for months, played to its strengths and took advantage of Miami’s increasingly glaring weaknesses. The Celtics know exactly who they are, while The Heat is clearly still experimenting with lineups and trying to screw things up. Miami used a nine-man rotation on Wednesday, even with Herro injured and big man Dewayne Dedmon out of the mix.

Of those nine players, Boston hunted three — Vincent Strauss and Duncan Robinson — relentlessly. And he cheated almost everyone behind the three-point line. By giving The Heat a heavy dose of fall coverage, he was already no respecter of drag shooting, but he hit them with another tweak in the second half of Game 5, putting a big guy on Butler, instead of Smart.

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Odoka said the Celtics wanted to “stay locked up in the face of the bowlers and make others score”. “Some men attack them, whether it’s bam [Adebayo] Or a butler too. and then help [P.J.] Tucker some. And so really, though, Butler wasn’t really looking forward to the scoring. He was more than a screener and made pocket plays. And so he was slipping behind some of our keys and so we wanted to stay big on him and play him like big and play in a more traditional cover. “

Miami was nowhere near making Boston reconsider its decline. The Heat 45 tried three-pointers on Wednesday, which is usually a sign of good offense, but the vast majority were either contested or taken by bowlers. Being made 15.6 percent of them isn’t because of the Celtics’ defense, but it’s definitely not just bad luck.

The Heat desperately needs something to change it up. Can Butler get off his knee and save Friday’s Miami season? Can Adebayo start bullying Robert Williams III? Can Laurie, Strauss, or even a returning hero go?

“I know how combustible our guys are,” Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said, using the same word he used after losing Game 4 of the second round in Philadelphia. The Heat won the next two games of that series convincingly, but Boston is a different beast.

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