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Heat rout Celtics, advance to NBA Finals

2023-05-30 HKT 11:10
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  • Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Photo: AP
    Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Photo: AP
The Miami Heat earned a resounding 103-84 away win over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday to reach the Finals.

The Heat also avoids becoming the first team to squander a 3-0 playoff series lead.

After a dramatic defeat in the final three seconds at home on Saturday, the Miami Heat was led by Jimmy Butler on Monday's game. He had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Caleb Martin added 26 points and 10 rebounds to spark Miami, which will visit the Denver Nuggets on Thursday to begin the best-of-seven championship final.

Miami recovered from a gut-punch of a game-six defeat, where they fell on a last-second tip-in, to win the Eastern Conference final 4-3, silencing a loud Boston crowd.

Taking full advantage of an injury to Boston star Jayson Tatum in the opening seconds and a cold-shooting Celtics start, the Heat avoided becoming the first team in 151 attempts to lose a playoff series after leading 3-0.

"We stayed together as a group," Butler said. "We talked about going to get a tough one on the road and we did just that.

"But we're not satisfied. We're happy. We're ecstatic. But we've got one more to get."

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he never doubted his resilient squad could win game seven.

"Sometimes you have to suffer for the things you really want," he said.

"This group has shown fortitude when there are inevitable let-downs and failures, but had that perseverance to pick yourself up, that collective spirit to keep on forging ahead."

The Heat, seeking a fourth NBA title and first since 2013, last reached the NBA Finals in 2020, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets, into the NBA Finals for the first time, swept the Lakers in the Western Conference final. (AFP/Reuters)
Last updated: 2023-05-30 HKT 13:03