The NBA world has erupted after the Boston Celtics forced a decisive game seven in the Eastern Conference finals against Miami thanks to a last-second putback from Derrick White. The Celtics looked for all money to be down and out in the series after losing the first three games, but have since won three in a row to now level the series and head back to their home court to decide who progresses to the NBA Finals.
Boston had lead by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the Heat have repeatedly proven during the playoff that they simply cannot be counted out of any games. In a grinding fourth quarter on their home floor, the Heat managed to chip away at the deficit before taking the lead with just three seconds left to play.
It was Jimmy Butler who handed Miami their first lead of the game since the fourth quarter, hitting three clutch free throws after he was fouled by Al Horford on a three point shot. It was a moment that sunk the hearts of Celtics fans, but the game wasn't over yet.
After a timeout, White was able to inbound the ball to Marcus Smart, whose three-point attempt missed in-and-out - but it was at that moment that White became the hero Boston needed to avoid being knocked out of the playoffs.
He skied in to tip it in off the backboard, just getting the shot off in time before the final buzzer sounded. He single-handedly saw Boston claim a 104-103 win on the road to keep their season alive, and sent the NBA world into meltdown in the process.
— NBA (@NBA) May 28, 2023
Jayson Tatum on Derrick White's season-saving putback: "Ooooweee. Oh my God, that was incredible."
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) May 28, 2023
I think what makes me most happy is this moment is happening to Derrick White. Tremendous Celtic.
— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) May 28, 2023
If, I repeat if, the Celtics win Game 7 and go on to win the title where does that Derrick White basket rank in terms of all time plays in Celtics history. It has to be up there with the best of the best.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) May 28, 2023
I am still having Bird to DJ flashbacks.
What an incredible play from Derrick White.
— Mike From Woburn (@MikeFromWoburn) May 28, 2023
It’s really rare to watch a play, in the moment, and know that you just witnessed NBA history.
We just got to experience that. One of the great heads up plays in NBA history by Derrick White.
— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) May 28, 2023
Epic clutch free throws by Jimmy Butler but an even more epic hustle play by Derrick White to get to that rebound to save the season for Boston.
Game 7 for the series, for the Finals and, possibly, for history.
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) May 28, 2023
that was an unbelievably smart play from derrick white. he was the inbounder, his man didn't guard him and instead doubled tatum to prevent tatum getting a look. so there was no one to box white out and he immediately went straight to the rim when smart caught it. what a play.
— Josh Bowe (@Boweman55) May 28, 2023
I am sending Derrick White a Christmas card for this game
— Alexandra Francisco (@ByAlFrancisco) May 28, 2023
Unbelievable finish in Miami! Derrick White with the buzzer beater! Game 7, what a game!!!!
— CP "The Fanchise" (@CPTheFanchise) May 28, 2023
DERRICK. WHITE. Game 7 Monday. Speechless. #Celtics
— Nick Cattles (@NickCRadio) May 28, 2023
Boston Celtics force game seven for chance at NBA history
No team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs and gone on to win the series - however Boston will be the first team to attempt to do so on their home court. Heavily favoured to win the series when it began, the Celtics quickly learned why the Heat had managed to topple championship contenders Milwaukee in the first round and New York in the second.
The Heat only secured their place in the playoffs through the play-in tournament, losing the first game to Atlanta before securing the eighth seed and a match-up with the Bucks, where they stunned the NBA world by winning the series in five games.
"I'm just happy we won," White told the broadcast after the game.. "Whatever it takes, our backs are against the wall. ... We're a resilient group. We pick each other up. We fight for each other.
"The job isn't done yet. We got a tough one in Game 7, and we've got to find a way to get one more win here."
Until about five minutes left in the fourth, the Celtics again looked like a top-tier team facing a play-in team. Unlike the previous two games, though, they didn't do it by shooting lights out from 3-point range - instead, it was a suffocating effort on defence anchored by center Robert Williams, or at least a putrid night for Miami.
Butler and Bam Adebayo, once the dominant forces in this series, looked like a shell of themselves for the most of the game. They entered the fourth quarter shooting 5-of-29 from the field. As a team overall, the Heat finished the game shooting 13-of-34 in the paint.
Meanwhile, the Celtics struggled shooting from deep, finishing 7-of-35 at the perimeter, but made up for it with a pair of strong nights from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Heat defence struggled to stay in front of both of them all night, and the pair combined for 57 points.
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