It’s been about 11 hours and just, wow.
Derrick White’s buzzy endgame culminated in a frenzied finish that saw Boston come back from the brink and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals 3-3.
Win one to play another one. The Celtics did it one game at a time. And now we’re here.
Here’s how the Celtics brought the series back to Boston for Game 7.
2. Derrick White saved his best skills for last, but he also did a lot of good things before that. It was a nice combination of White’s heads-up defense followed by Al Horford’s good hit:
White’s defense on Jimmy Butler was the center of attention throughout the series. In the first few games, Butler got what he wanted. White made it a lot harder for him as the series progressed. This type of game is becoming more and more common among whites:
In the late game, White was not afraid of the moment. This is a sure stroke when Cinder wasn’t moving around the screen:
And of course, White did it to keep the Celtics season alive:
It’s just the perfect reading after passing the ball. Miami traded to stop the ball from Jayson Tatum, so White folded and immediately smashed the boards. Boston lives to fight another day.
3. Jaylen Brown burned early. This was one of the best examples of “First Quarter JB” we’ve seen in a while. Nasty trouble seemed to throw him out of his game, but Brown rocked Boston.
When Brown gets easy early, it’s usually a good sign. He went coast to coast to open the score:
The mid-tone pull-up is one of Brown’s best weapons. This is a great shot after a series of dribbles:
When Brown draws a minor defender, he gleefully stands up and shoots over him:
When Brown picks up a bigger defender, he will either carry him or set him up for a pull-up. It was some nice steps to pull up with one dribble here:
4. Jayson Tatum took control during the break in the second quarter. From 9:18 of the second quarter to 3:41, Tatum scored or set 16 straight points for the Celtics.
Two dribbles from the center post and right into an elbow escape:
Again, Tatum went to work in the center post area. After battling for position, this is a nice turnaround for Jimmy Butler:
During the transition, Tatum walked past Butler and ended it:
After forcing the theft, Tatum did a good job of not settling down. He could have knocked his opponent down, but instead he blew Bam Adebayo to lay him down:
5. Marcus Smart made some important plays during the game. He also had a calming effect on the Celtics. When they needed a bucket, they played Smart a few times.
Being smart on the block always seems to result in something positive for Boston:
In this case, Smart made good use of their knockoff pumps. Jayson Tatum does a good job reading the defense. Then Smart stays composed, flies past and clears the jumper:
A little later, the same thing happened with this nice find by Grant Williams:
This is a really nice set. Boston caught Jimmy Butler who was tracking and watching the ball as Tatum slipped through the back door on a nice pass from Smart:
6. Al Horford’s stat line belies his importance to the game. Yes, he made a few late fouls, but that’s bad focus.
Horford made big plays all game long when Boston needed them. This is good material from the almost 37-year-old:
And this recovery block was huge for Horford and the Celtics:
7. Rob Williams was once again great from the Boston bench. His energy and athleticism just change the game when he comes on.
Williams’ times and offensive rebounds reading are off the charts:
It was one of those ROBs! a game where you wonder how it even happened:
Williams also starts to develop quite a bit of patience when he catches her in the middle. It is not always serving a hot potato or its instant promotion. Sometimes he sits down and draws and-1:
8. In part because of Al Horford and Rob Williams, the Celtics’ inside defense dominated Game 6. But backs and wingers had a lot to do with it, too. Nothing was easy for the Heat throughout the game.
Miami made 19-of-63, or 30.2%, of the two-point field goals in Game 6. Including 16-of-52 field goals in paint.
Boston questioned everything. Some of the plays resulted in fouls, but that’s the price of a physical, aggressive defense.
9. To be balanced despite our excitement… Boston has to be better to close these games.
The Celtics led by 10 points with 4:56 left. That’s not a huge advantage considering the way teams shoot threes these days. So you have to keep playing and attacking.
As usual, Boston played too slowly. Miami sat in the token press 2-2-1 before falling back to their dueling zone 2-3. It’s not like the Celtics didn’t realize it or didn’t attack properly, it just took too long.
Just keep pushing and keep running. Miami will not disappear. They never do. You have to play the full 48 minutes and you have to play the full 48 minutes your way.
10. Match 7. On Memorial Day, after fans celebrate for two days in a row.
Yes, this will be the mob of all time in Game 7.
The Celtics need to use the crowd and that energy to pick them up. The Heat look exhausted and may have emptied their tanks in an attempt to win Game 6.
You can’t create a story if there is no story to create.
It’s no longer about winning one to play another.
Win one to play NBA finals.