Boston Celtics: 3 reasons the Cs won the Eastern Conference Finals

The Boston Celtics have won the Eastern Conference Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics have won the Eastern Conference Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Boston Celtics closed out the Miami Heat in dramatic fashion on Sunday night, winning game seven by a final score of 100-96. They almost gave away at the end, in what would have been a crushing defeat, but ultimately benefitted from a Jimmy Butler missed three with less than 20 seconds remaining.

This will be the Celtics’ first finals appearance since 2010 and the first finals experience for any player on the roster. On the other hand, the Warriors are one of the most experienced teams in the history of basketball. Despite this, we should get a competitive series between two extremely capable, switchable defenses and intelligent coaching staffs.

However, after losing Game 6 on their home floor, the path to the finals did not look as sure as it once did. Boston was clearly the better team than Miami throughout the majority of the series, as they could have won all seven games. On the other hand, the Celtics handily controlled Games 2, 4, and 7, never allowing the Heat a chance back into the contest.

The Boston Celtics did a lot of things well in the Eastern Conference finals

Some are disappointed with the way Boston closed game seven (it was a mess), but after all that, they made the NBA Finals. Instead of picking apart their flaws, let’s celebrate this accomplishment with a core that has failed to get over the ECF hump two or three times prior.

The Heat gave a tremendous effort, especially considering how much many of their key players were hurting, but they simply did not have enough offensive firepower outside of Jimmy Butler. They’ll likely need to add another piece in the offseason to try to make another run at the finals.

Let’s look into three things that went right in this Eastern Conference Finals, leading to Boston’s first trip to the finals since 2010:

Boston Celtics reason #1: Taking the shots that were given

The Boston Celtics did a splendid job of taking the shots that were given by the Miami Heat. The East’s number one seed is a great defense in their own right, as both teams struggled to score in the halfcourt all series long. Therefore, some shots that are questionable in other situations were valuable looks in this series.

For instance, instead of attacking the likes of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the perimeter, Jaylen Brown looked to blow by and shoot over both Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. He hit a number of mid-range shots over shorter, less athletic defenders by simply rising over them.

When Jayson Tatum saw a number of double teams over the last two games, he made the correct read the majority of the time, as Boston was playing four on three for the rest of the possession. He generated many open looks for the Celtics offense in game seven alone, while also scoring 26 points on 21 shots, including two daggers in the latter half of the fourth quarter.

He began to get into actions quicker to look for his own shot rather than allow the double team to come to him. By doing this, he blows by his initial defender before the help is ever allowed to come, creating an advantageous situation for the offense.

As for the rest of the supporting cast, everyone stepped up when their number was called. Marcus Smart did lead the Cs in shot attempts in Game 7, which probably shouldn’t happen, but was effective in attacking weaker Heat defenders at the rim. Derrick White and Al Horford were aggressive from the 3-point line when they were left open, with White hitting a number of huge shots in the last two games.

Overall, nothing from the Celtics’ offense ever felt forced. They played relatively slow in the half-court, got into their offensive processes, hunted reasonable mismatches, and went to work. They had better shot-makers than Miami throughout the entire series, leading to a game seven victory on the road.