Derrick White scored on a tap-up with 0.1 seconds left and the Boston Celtics moved on the brink of the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history, beating the Miami Heat 104-103 on Saturday to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final.
Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, Jaylen Brown scored 26 and Marcus Smart added 21 for the Celtics, who became the fourth NBA team to erase a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series and force a deciding game. The others on that club, the 1951 New York Knicks in the NBA Finals, the 1994 Denver Nuggets in the second round, and the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, all lost Game 7, all away from home. .
Boston, however, is going home for its shot at history. Game 7 is Monday night on Celtics home court, a matchup that will decide who faces the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets in a title series that begins Thursday.
Jimmy Butler made three free throws with 3.0 seconds left for the Heat’s one-point lead. Smart missed a 3-pointer, but White grabbed the rebound and scored as time expired.
Butler scored 24 points and Caleb Martin had 21 for the Heat, who are trying to make their own improbable trip to the title series by being only the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals. Now they’ve lost as many games this week, three, as they had in their first 14 playoff games this spring combined en route to ousting No. 1 Milwaukee, then No. 5 New York and taking what was supposed to be a challenge. unbeatable, a 3-0 lead over the second-seeded Celtics.
The Celtics have now won five of their last six Eastern Finals games in Miami, a stretch that includes a Game 7 win over the Heat last season to reach the NBA Finals.
That obviously ended the Heat’s season. At least this time, Miami still has a chance.
The Heat are the 151st team to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The previous 150 clubs finished the job. But the Celtics have made it abundantly clear that they have other ideas.
For the Celtics, Al Horford had four points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 32 minutes of action.