BOSTON — The Boston Celtics continue to make things more difficult on themselves, wasting yet another golden opportunity Friday night in a disappointing 111-103 Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat at TD Garden.
With Boston’s loss, the Eastern Conference finals now is tied 3-3 and will shift back to Miami for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday.
You can check out the full box score here.
ONE BIG TAKEAWAY
Much of the story behind Boston’s Game 5 win was how stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were able to deliver in crunch time. It didn’t work out that way in Game 6 as the Jays were completely outdone by Heat star Jimmy Butler. Tatum (30 points on 9-for-12) and Brown (20 points on 6-for-13) combine for just 14 points (Tatum had 12 of those 14) on merely seven shots in the second half. Seven shots combine. Each scored 18 points before the intermission. In a closeout game, against a team as hobbled as the Heat seemingly were entering the contest, the Celtics needed more from their stars, they needed assertiveness, and they didn’t get it.
Brown’s costly missed free throws with two minutes left in a tie game, 99-all, was a snapshot of that. And Tatum’s seven turnovers continued a troubling trend, as well. Tatum’s giveaways were nearly half of the teams (17) — which were equally impactful in Boston not being able to sustain momentum at various points in the game.
So while it was great to see Derrick White come alive on both ends of the floor in the second half, and while it was nice to see Robert Williams do his damage in the third quarter to help Boston stay in it, the Green head back to Miami after average performances from above-average stars.
STARS OF THE GAME
— Jimmy Butler looked much healthier and more explosive, especially during the early going for the Heat. Butler scored 14 of his 47 points (16-for-29) in the first quarter as Miami came out firing en route to a seven-point lead. Butler finished just shy of a triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists.
— White kept the Celtics in the game with eight points in the opening 2:24 of the fourth quarter. He later took charge with Boston down 89-85 and even came up with a steal in the final minutes. White, who was Boston’s best player in the second half, finished with 22 points on 7-for-13 from the field to go along with five assists.
— Kyle Lowry recorded a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists while playing 37 minutes.
The Celtics were an 8.5-point favorite entering Friday’s contest, which may have seemed a bit high for some bettors. Well, those bettors likely were granted a pay day as the Heat not only covered the spread, but won straight up as well.
The Heat and Celtics now will return to Miami for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday night. Tipoff from FTX Arena is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.