Let’s do it again: Celtics to face Heat in Eastern Conference finals rematch

Let’s do it again: Celtics to face Heat in Eastern Conference finals rematch

Late in the third quarter, a Boston fan with a fluorescent pink inflatable flamingo held up a placard that read, “See you in Miami!”

Celtics-Heat: Eastern Conference finals rematch set.

In last year’s NBA final four, the Celtics led Miami 3-2 before losing Game 6. Boston survived a late Jimmy Butler miss in Game 7 to go to the NBA Finals.

The Celtics’ “Unfinished Business” season followed a championship-round loss to Golden State.

They hope to use Sunday’s blowout win against Philadelphia to prepare for another fight with the Heat. Four regular-season games were divided.

“We had another opportunity today, as a team and for myself of just to kind of bounce back,” said Jayson Tatum, whose 51 points in Game 7 were the most ever. I was relieved and happy to get another chance because Game 6 could have ended our season. I was excited to play another Game 7.

Tatum outperformed Stephen Curry in the Warriors’ first-round win over Sacramento two weeks earlier.

It also silenced doubters who doubted Tatum after back-to-back games in which he struggled to score.

“When he plays well-rounded, our team is different,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Boston had a 7-9 home playoff record, but outscored Philadelphia 33-10 in the third quarter. The league’s greatest Game 7 quarter margin was 23 points.

The Celtics advanced to 27-9 in Game 7s, the most in NBA history.

League MVP Joel Embiid, who became a force for the 76ers in the second half after Tatum had been among the frontrunners in the first half, had nothing but admiration for Tatum and the Celtics’ chances of representing the East again in the finals.

Embiid called them the league’s best. “They have so many great basketball players.”

How the Celtics reacted to win the final two games of the series was incredible.

First, Mazzulla’s choice to play Robert Williams III alongside Al Horford helped Boston. The Celtics then used Williams as a third defender on pick-and-rolls between Embiid and James Harden, forcing tougher shots for both in Game 7.

The Celtics will now try to halt a Miami club that has returned to the conference finals thanks to Butler’s great play.

Tatum says the team is up for it.

Tatum added, “We’re extremely familiar with, third time in four years I think playing them in the playoffs. “Well-coached team. They challenge the finest. Playing hard. They defend. The play. They win. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fierce. I’m excited.”

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