Celtics vs. Heat score, takeaways: Jimmy Butler shines as Miami forces a Game 7 with pivotal win over Boston

The Miami Heat aren't dead just yet. We will have a do-or-die Game 7 on Sunday night in South Beach after Jimmy Butler led the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference to a crucial 111-103 victory in Game 6 at TD Garden to extend this series and keep their title hopes alive. 

Butler was fantastic for Miami when they needed him to be the most as he finished the win with a game-high 47 points to go along with nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Butler also had plenty of help as Kyle Lowry turned in one of his best games of the postseason finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and four boards before ultimately fouling out. 

For Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown did all they could to lead the Celtics to their first Finals berth since 2010 but, in the end, it wasn't enough that the two combined for 50 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists while shooting a combined 15/25 from the field. 

Now, we'll enjoy the best thing that sports can offer on Sunday night. A Game 7. 

Here are four key takeaways from the game:

1. Butler has his own "LeBron Game 6" moment

Ten years ago, the Celtics won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami to take a 3-2 lead on the Heat and went back home with a chance to close things out. LeBron James did not let that happen, as he put together his famous "Game 6" performance, finishing with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists to crush the Celtics' dreams. 

On Friday night, Butler reprised the role. 

After being a no-show for the past few games, he was flat-out tremendous in this one. Driving to the lane for powerful finishes and free throws, tough jumpers to beat the shot clock, jumping into passing lanes for steals -- he did a little bit of everything to keep the Heat's season alive. 

In the end, he finished with 47 points, which was a playoff career-high and the second-most in a playoff game in Heat franchise history, and added nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Butler has had some huge nights throughout his career, including in the Finals, so it may not be his very best performance, but it's right up there. 

2. Miami finally made some shots

In Games 4 and 5, the Heat shot a combined 60-of-184 (32.6 percent) from the field overall and 21-of-81 (25.9 percent) from 3-point land. They looked like they were out of gas and out of answers against an elite Celtics defense, and there was little reason to expect things would turn around in Game 6. 

But, of course, as the old saying goes: that's why we play the games. While Butler led the way, another key factor in the Heat's season-saving win is that they finally made some shots. They knocked down 15 3-pointers, which was their most in a game this series and second-most in the entire playoffs, and shot 46.2 percent from the field.

Even more importantly, they came up with every single clutch shot that they needed. Aside from fouling too much, the Celtics' defense was largely impressive again. The Heat's shot-making was just better. Time and again they hit deep 3s and shot-clocking beating jumpers with a hand in their face. 

This one, from Max Strus, was the best of the bunch. 

3. Celtics can't quite close it out

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka summed things up well during his postgame press conference: "We've won there, but we make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be."

The Celtics came into Friday night's Game 6 with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Finals for the first time since 2010. Instead, they'll have to make another trip to Miami for Game 7, where they'll need to win for the third time in the series in order to keep their season alive. 

And while Jimmy Butler's effort and the Heat's shot-making shouldn't be discounted, it once again feels like the Celtics let a win slip through their fingers. 

First and foremost, they turned the ball over far too often. The very first play of the game was a bad pass from Jayson Tatum, and they finished with 17 turnovers that led to 23 points for the Heat. Once again, the formula is pretty simple: if the Celtics take care of the ball, they win. For the playoffs, they're now 1-4 with more than 15 turnovers and 10-12 when they stay at or below that number. 

Another classic Celtics problem that cropped up in Game 6 was poor late-game offense. Derrick White hit a 3-pointer with 4:47 remaining to put them in front, 97-94. They only scored six points the rest of the way, and four of those were at the free-throw line. Over the closing stretch, they were 1-of-7 from the field with two turnovers. As too often happens in these situations, they slowed things down, tried to play isolation basketball and didn't get good looks. 

The good news from the Celtics' perspective is these are fixable problems, and they've shown an ability to bounce back in the playoffs. They're 5-0 following a loss, and four of those wins have come by double figures. The bad news is to make it 6-0 they'll have to win a Game 7 on the road, which is not an easy proposition. 

4. White's big night goes to waste

When the Celtics traded for Derrick White at the deadline, there were some who felt the team gave up too much by sending Josh Richardson, their 2022 first-round pick and a 2028 first-round pick swap to the San Antonio Spurs. But Brad Stevens made the move because he felt White gave the team a chance to compete for a title. 

So far in the playoffs, Stevens has been proven correct. White has stepped up in numerous spots when Marcus Smart has been out of the lineup due to injuries and gives them another defensive-minded guard who can handle the ball and get others involved. On Friday night, though, it was White's scoring that stood out. 

With the Celtics in desperate need of a spark in the fourth quarter, White delivered. He hit two 3-pointers and then drove inside for an and-one that he celebrated with a roar to the ecstatic crowd. Later on, with the Celtics still looking to take the lead, he delivered again. First, a sharp pass to find Al Horford for a game-tying 3, then another 3 of his own from the corner to put the Celtics in front. 

He finished with 22 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals off the bench in by far his best outing of the playoffs. Alas, it went to waste because the Celtics couldn't hold on down the stretch. 

0
0
FRI 8:30 P
BOS -8.5, o201.5
ESPN
BOS -8.5, O/U 201.5

Season Leaders

points
headshot-image
J. Butler27.4 PTS, 4.6 AST, 7.4 REB
headshot-image
J. Butler27.4 PTS, 4.6 AST, 7.4 REB
headshot-image
J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
headshot-image
J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
assists
headshot-image
K. Lowry7.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 3.6 REB
headshot-image
K. Lowry7.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 3.6 REB
headshot-image
J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
headshot-image
J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
rebounds
headshot-image
B. Adebayo14.8 PTS, 2.7 AST, 8.0 REB
headshot-image
B. Adebayo14.8 PTS, 2.7 AST, 8.0 REB
headshot-image
A. Horford12.0 PTS, 3.3 AST, 9.3 REB
headshot-image
A. Horford12.0 PTS, 3.3 AST, 9.3 REB
Live updates
(44)
Pinned

FINAL: Heat 111 -- Celtics 103

The Heat pulled away in the final few minutes to keep their season alive and force a Game 7 back in Miami on Sunday. Jimmy Butler led the way with a playoff career-high 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals on 16 of 29 from the field. Kyle Lowry also stepped up with 18 points and 10 assists. Heat made 15 3-pointers, including a number of extremely difficult looks. 

Jayson Tatum had 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists in defeat, while Derrick White added 22 points and five assists off the bench. The Celtics had a late lead, but couldn't hold on down the stretch. Once again, they fell victim to turnovers, handing the Heat 17 extra possessions and 22 free points. 

See New Posts
Pinned

Tatum says confidence level at a 10 entering Game 7

Despite the loss to the Heat Friday night, in which an injury-riddled Heat team managed to shock the Celtics on their home floor thanks to Jimmy Butler's 47-point performance, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is 100 percent confident in his team's ability to come out on top on Sunday.

"Scale of 1-10? Ten, it shouldn't be any less than that, right?" Tatum said. "It's the last game, this is what it's all about. So on a scale of 1-10 it's a 10 on my confidence level in myself and the group."

Pinned

Jimmy Butler said Dwyane Wade's phone call ahead of Game 6 gave him motivation

Butler set a new career playoff record in points with his 47-point outburst in Game 6 Friday night. He was knocking down 3s, getting to the rim and getting to the foul line. He did all of this while dealing with a nagging knee injury. But what helped give him motivation to put the team on his back was what Heat legend Dwyane Wade told him in a phone call prior to the game.

"I got a phone call and text message from D.Wade earlier today and he was telling me I could do this," Butler said. Knee a little banged up, but nobody cares. Go out there and continue to build your legacy. That meant the world to me."

Pinned

Heat's Adebayo: 'Everyone counted us out'

Add another Miami player to the list of guys that used the outside noise as motivation for tonight's win. Adebayo said after the game, "Everybody counted us out. Everybody thought the series was already over. That's all the motivation we needed." That could also be referring to Draymond Green's comments where he predicted the Celtics would face him and the Warriors in the Finals. Wherever the motivation came from for Miami tonight, it certainly paid off as the Heat will now host Game 7 on Sunday. 

Pinned

PJ Tucker, Udonis Haslem react to Draymond Green saying Celtics would make Finals

After the Warriors closed out the Dallas Mavericks to advance to the Finals on Thursday night, Green went on NBA on TNT to give his opinion on who he thinks Golden State will face for the championship.

"I'll tell you who I think we're gonna play, we're gonna play Boston," Green said.

Tucker and Haslem had a rebuttal to Green's comments after avoiding elimination Friday night. Haslem thanked Green for the motivation, while Tucker said the team thought Green's comments were funny.

"We laughed, I thought it was funny," Tucker said. "He knows better than anybody, we still gotta play the game. There's no guarantees for anybody in this league. On a night in night out basis these games have been crazy, they've been unpredictable all series. Beating each other at each other's homes, we're both great home teams. It's just been crazy, so it's kinda weird to be a player and pick another team."

Pinned

Jimmy Butler sets franchise history in Game 6

With his team facing elimination, Butler put up a cool 47 points against Boston to extend the series to a Game 7. Butler's scoring outburst broke the record for most points in Heat history when facing elimination. It also sets a new playoff career high in points for Butler as well. Dwyane Wade holds the previous record with 46 points in 2010 against none other than the Celtics. 

Pinned

Jaylen Brown collects more fouls than points in second half

In the first half of this game Brown and Tatum were carrying the Celtics on offense. By halftime Brown had 18 points, while going 6 of 10 from the floor. But that efficiency stalled out of the half, as Brown collected more fouls (four) than he did points (two). His final foul of the night, which came in the closing seconds of the game, ended up being his sixth as he was called for a charge after trying to finish a dunk on a fastbreak.  

Pinned

Troubling fouls, cont'd

Actually: Fouls have been a much bigger deal for Boston down the stretch. Jimmy Butler got an and-1, with Al Horford committing the foul, and then Derrick White sent P.J. Tucker to the line on consecutive possessions. The second one was a questionable call, but this is tough stuff for the Celtics. 

Pinned

Troubling fouls

Kyle Lowry just picked up his sixth foul, so he'll finish with 18 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds in 37 minutes. Incredible game for him, considering he is clearly playing through an injury.

Related: P.J. Tucker and Max Strus each have five fouls for Miami. Jaylen Brown and Grant Williams have 5 for Boston. Williams is on the bench and Lowry has been huge tonight, so this is a bigger deal for the Heat right now. They play a very physical brand of defense, but Boston's in the bonus and they don't want to lose anybody else in the final 2 minutes.

Pinned

White hot, Part III

Derrick White is now +16 in his 28 minutes. Since my last update on him, he has taken a charge on Kyle Lowry, created a wide-open 3 for Al Horford and made a corner 3 himself. He has 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-5 from deep.

Pinned

White keeps it rolling

Derrick White continues to play the game of his life. He just made a great kick out off the short roll to Al Horford for a game-tying 3-pointer, then on the next possession hit a wide-open 3 from the corner to give the Celtics the lead. This is why the Celtics were willing to give up a first-round pick and a future pick swap to get White at the deadline

Pinned

Intensity picking up

There hasn't been much drama or intensity in this series because half the games have been blowouts with 20-point leads for long stretches. That's all changed tonight as this game has been close most of the way. Now, with time winding down, things are really picking up. The defense and hustle has been incredible

Pinned

White hot, cont'd

Hard to overstate how important Derrick White has been to the Celtics tonight. He has made two 3s and a floater in the third quarter, and we're not even three minutes into it yet. Beyond that, there's just more juice to Boston's offense when he's on the floor. He doesn't push the pace in really obvious ways like, say, Kyle Lowry, but he's a quick decision-maker and gives the team more tempo, even in the halfcourt. The Celtics are +9 in his 23 minutes and -13 otherwise. 

Pinned

Celtics challenge call unsuccessful

Boston used its challenge with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter as Jimmy Butler baited Grant Williams into his fifth foul. On replay it looked like an easy call for the officials to overturn, but after review the challenge was unsuccessful, leading to Williams' fifth foul of the night. Though Williams hasn't been as productive as he's typically been throughout the playoffs, having him in that type of foul trouble with the game this close is brutal for Boston. 

Pinned

White Hot

Derrick White has 11 points on 3-6 shooting, plus 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in 21 minutes. He scored 7 of his points in his 5-minute stint in the third quarter, which coincided with Boston going on a run. He and Robert Williams III have been Boston's best role players tonight, and, the way this is going, I wonder if he might play the entire fourth. (If he doesn't, then the Celtics probably need Al Horford or Grant Williams to give them something offensively. Horford, who has been incredible during the playoffs -- and probably Boston's most consistent player all season -- has missed all five of his shot attempts and turned the ball over three times.)

Pinned

Strus is loose in the third quarter

After going a combined 0-16 from the field, and 0-11 from 3-point range in the last two games, Strus has put up 13 points for the Heat tonight. Eleven of those points came in the the third quarter, with Strus' final triple helping to stall a Celtics run. Miami couldn't have asked for a better performance from Strus, and there's still a full quarter left to play. 

Pinned

Third quarter: Heat 82 -- Celtics 75

The Heat took control in the third quarter and briefly pushed the lead up to 13, before the Celtics got back into the game a little bit. Jimmy Butler is still leading the way with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but the big difference tonight is Max Strus and the Heat's 3-point shooters have shown up. Strus has 13 points and the Heat have hit 13 3s, a number of them under heavy contests. 

Pinned

Celtics respond to force Heat timeout

The Celtics needed a response after that Heat run, and they got one. Derrick White got to the rim, Robert Williams III drew a foul and then he threw down an alley-oop. A quick 6-0 run cuts the deficit back down to six and forces a timeout from the Heat. Still a long way back for the Celtics and they need to keep playing smart, but that was a big swing. 

Pinned

Heat seizing control

The Heat have built a double-digit lead here in the middle of the third quarter with some more strong shot-making. Strus is heating up, Oladipo hit a step-back 3 and all of a sudden it's a 12-point lead. Celtics look sluggish and can't get anything going on offense. Next few minutes will be crucial. If Celtics don't have an immediate response this could get out of hand

Pinned

Heat shotmaking has finally shown up

The Heat are only shooting 42 percent from the field tonight, but they've made a bunch of incredible shots along the way. Max Strus' shot-clock beating 3 from a few minutes ago stands out, but there's been a few other tough 3s and some nice finishes around the rim. Those are the type of shots you need to pull off an upset on the road. 

Pinned

Halftime reading

Pinned

Halftime: Heat 48 -- Celtics 46

Celtics were in control for much of the second quarter and briefly retook the lead, but played a very poor turnover-filled final minute to let the Heat surge back in front at the half. Jimmy Butler with 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists already, and the Heat are shooting 8-of-16 from 3-point land. Celtics are hanging in the game thanks to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who have combined for 36 of their 46 points. 

Pinned

All about the Jays

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have 36 points on 12-for-17 shooting. Everybody else who plays for the Celtics has 10 points on 3-for-17 shooting, including 0-for-8 from deep. That is not what I would call balanced scoring. Brown has basically taken over this game, though, so Boston can't be complaining.

Pinned

Brown stepping up

Jaylen Brown had a dominant second half in Game 5 to help the Celtics take the series lead, and he's carried over the momentum to Game 6. He's taken over the last few minutes to help the Celtics get their first lead of the night and now has 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting. 

Pinned

P.J. Tucker with three fouls in the first half

Tucker picked up his third foul after getting called for an offensive foul where he inadvertently hit Jaylen Brown in the face while driving to the rim. It was reviewed for a flagrant, and the officials decided it would be just a common foul. Still, Tucker having three fouls in the first half isn't ideal for the Heat as they try to stave off elimination. 

Pinned

Strus loose?

Two nice plays by Max Strus: First he crashes the offensive boards and draws a foul on Payton Pritchard, showing the *other* way you can punish a size mismatch offensively, and then he takes a charge on the other end. He has still only made one shot in the last three games, but, hey, Miami will take any kind of production that it can get from him.

Pinned

Heat go small, Celtics go crazy

Bam Adebayo came out of the game, and Boston almost immediately went on a 7-0 run against Miami's smallball lineup. Dewayne Dedmon didn't fare well earlier in the series, but the Heat have been going with P.J. Tucker as the backup 5 the last couple of games and the Celtics are clearly going to be intentional about getting in the paint during those minutes. Adebayo has only been off the floor for about two minutes tonight, but it has looked different. 

Pinned

Tatum heating up

Jayson Tatum has been a bit inconsistent during the series, but he's off to a great start tonight. He's scored all nine of the Celtics' points in the second quarter to cut the deficit to just one point and is now up to 16 points. The Celtics need Tatum to keep playing like this, especially with the rest of the team struggling. 

Pinned

Celtics surviving on free throws

The Celtics' offense has generally been pretty rough tonight, but the one bright spot is that they're getting to the free-throw line. They're now 10-of-10 from the line and have nearly half their points there. They need to keep attacking the basket. 

Pinned

First quarter: Heat 29 -- Celtics 22

The Heat are playing like a team facing elimination. They have been all over the place defensively and are finally making some shots from the outside (5-of-8 on 3s). Jimmy Butler is leading the way with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Celtics are shooting 35 percent and have turned the ball over five times. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have seven points each

See More