Celtics vs Heat: There will be a new NBA champion this season, after the Boston Celtics eliminated the Toronto Raptors in a gruelling second-round series that went to the end of Game 7 to finally determine a winner.After two thrilling first-round Game 7s, the NBA’s conference semifinals are finally set. The Houston Rockets edged the Oklahoma City Thunder to set up a meeting with the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, while the Denver Nuggets outdueled the Utah Jazz to clinch a matchup with the LA Clippers.
The Eastern Conference semis are rolling along, as the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics are already up 2-0 in their series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, respectively.
Who will advance in the bubble? Our experts break down what you need to know about the conference semifinals.
There’s not much time for the C’s to celebrate their 92-87 win. On deck Tuesday is the well-rested and super-confident Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Final, with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
In a season unlike any other, this will mark the first time since the NBA went to the 16-team playoff format in 1984 that the Eastern Conference Finals will not feature either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. So now comes the big question: should you roll with the third-seeded Celtics or the fifth-seeded Heat?
Boston Outlasts The Champs
In a slugfest of a Game 7, Boston shot 40.7% from the field, including an icy 9-for-38 from three-point range, while shooting a woeful 13-for-23 from the free throw line and somehow managed the squeeze through.
The Celtics’ defensive effort was the difference, as they held the Raptors to just 41.3% shooting from the field and 8-for-28 from three-point range. The real clincher was their ability to turn the Raptors over. The best team in the playoffs at protecting the ball, Toronto coughed it up 18 times, and Boston turned those valuable extra possessions into 31 points.
He scored 18 points in the second half, but his best play came in the dying seconds of the game, racing past Norman Powell to grab a rebound off a Grant Williams free throw miss, essentially putting the game on ice.
Brown finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and a game-high four steals. Boston had 12 steals in the game to Toronto’s one.
Heat Rolling In The Playoffs
Miami has just one playoff loss in the bubble, sweeping the Pacers and trouncing the Bucks — the top seed in the playoffs — in five games.
With Toronto bounced, Miami easily possesses the deepest roster left standing. They have plenty of good things going for them, staring with their go-to guy in Jimmy Butler, who has led the team in scoring five times these playoffs.
The Lakers got past Portland with a gentleman’s sweep after dropping Game 1, eventually looking look like the team we saw in March, reclaiming their reputation as title favorites. After scoring 126 points per game on 48% from the field in the seeding round, all the Trail Blazers could muster was 106.6 points on 43% in the first round against the Lakers’ pressure. “I was very impressed how we committed to the defensive end,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
LeBron James, who was substandard in the seeding games, was locked in, averaging 27.4 points on 60% from the field (46% from 3) with 10.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists. And L.A.’s shooters found their stroke. After a disastrous 5-for-32 (15.6%) showing from 3 in the series opener, the Lakers got it together from the outside, hitting 55-for-143 (38.5%) from deep the rest of the way.