The Boston Celtics demolished the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 to advance to the Eastern conference Finals. Jayson Tatum set a record with 51 points in the win.
It is the third time in four years these two teams will matchup in the East finals. The The Heat defeated the Celtics in the 2020 bubble playoffs. The Celtics got their revenge last year. Both teams lost in the NBA Finals.
Let’s take a look at how Boston can solve Miami. Here are five reasons why the Celtics can beat the Heat.
1) Jayson Tatum
Tatum just asserted himself as one of the best players in the world and backed it up with a legendary performance in Game 7 against the Sixers. Tatum is averaging 28.2 points during the 2023 playoffs. He will be the best player on the floor in the series.
Tatum will be a matchup problem for the Heat. He may see a lot of Bam Adebayo as the key defender. Tatum had success against the Heat this season. He dropped 49 points against Miami on November 22, and 31 points in a loss on Janaury 24.
2) The Celtics' offensive options
With the re-emergence of Robert Williams, the Celtics now have seven players they can rely on to contribute on the offensive end. Seven guys who can create their own shot or knock down a three consistently is an unseen luxury in today’s NBA. That depth helped them outlast the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and then the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Five Celtics players are averaging double figures in the playoffs: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White. The Celtics may also get Blake Griffin back, who has been sidelined with a back injury. The Heat cannot match their depth as they are dealing with injuries to Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo.
3) Jimmy Butler’s lingering ankle injury
Butler was lights out in the first round to carry the Heat past the Bucks. He scored 25 or more points in every game and dropped 56 in Miami’s Game 4 win. He's been the team’s highest scorer in every playoff game he started. He missed Game 2 against the Knicks with an ankle injury.
Butler’s production has dropped off significantly since he rolled his ankle in Game 1 against the Knicks. Butler did not scored more than 30 points against the Knicks after going off in the first round. Miami will need a superhero performance from Butler to advance past the Celtics.
4) The Celtics are just better
The Celtics were first in the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 record. They finished 13 games ahead of the Heat, who posted a 44-38 record and barely squeezed into the playoffs. The Celtics were 2-2 against the Heat this season. Both losses came by a combined seven points. The Celtics are also the betting favorite to win the series at -525
5) - Celtics' defense
Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league. They have multiple players who can rotate and guard all five positions. They were fifth in team defense this season, holding opponents to 111.4 points per game.
The Celtics were also first in the regular season in scoring differential at +6.5. They are second in scoring margin during the playoffs (+7.2).