By Ollie Nash
Bam Adebayo led the Head to the NBA Finals in Game 6. Photo: AFP
The Miami Heat have advanced to their first NBA Finals since 2014 following their 125-113 Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A dominant 32 point, 14 rebound and five assist performance from Bam Adebayo led the way for the Heat, who finished off the fourth quarter on a 27-13 run to take the win.
Adebayo was upset with his 13 points in their Game 5 loss, but he made up for it today, attacking every chance he got offensively and putting Boston’s big men under pressure. Celtic centre Daniel Theis felt the brunt of it, fouling out midway through the final quarter.
Adebayo’s intensity seemed to filter through the entire Heat roster who followed his lead, attacking at every opportunity. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart therefor found themselves in foul trouble too, Walker committing two fouls in the first four minutes of the game.
Miami’s game style reflected in the shooting numbers. 19 less field goals attempted than Boston but made two more. They put up 18 less threes and still only made one less than the Celtics. 26 free throw attempts to 15 as well shows the Heat’s attack first mentality.
During the second and third quarters Boston flipped their game plan and attacked Miami’s zone and it worked. They were finding easy shots and open looks in the paint and it kept them in the game.
When they went away from that, the Heat were able to go on short runs and get a six or eight point lead. Eventually they went on a run that stuck in the fourth which ended the game.
Of the Celtics top four scorers, it was only Jaylen Brown that shot the ball well (10-17 from the field and 3-7 from the three-point line). Low and behold, he was the only one attacking the rim regularly for the Celtics. Walker and Smart each shot double digit threes and hit three and four respectively.
Jimmy Butler will play off in his first NBA Finals in 2020. Photo: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Miami’s elite shooting (56.2 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from three) was their saviour. Boston led the offensive rebound count 13 to two, dominated second chance points, had eight more points off turnovers than the Heat and 11 fast-break points to three. Plain and simply the Celtics couldn’t buy a bucket and Miami could, which decided the game.
Tyler Herro (19 points, five rebounds and seven assists) and Andre Iguodala (15 points and four threes) were great off the bench for the Heat.
Jayson Tatum didn’t have a field goal in the first quarter for the third straight game but still managed to finish with 24 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. Walker and Smart added 20 each as well.
The series loss is Boston’s third conference finals defeat in four seasons and Miami’s first appearance and win in the third round in six years.
The Heat will now look forward to facing LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who took the franchise to four straight NBA Finals and two championships from 2011-2014. Game 1 of that series tips off on Thursday at 11:00 am AEDT on ESPN.
Cover Photo: Fansided