Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Celtics
Heat drop game 6 to Celtics on game winner.
#1: Caleb Martin continually saving the Miami Heat’s offense.
As the Heat trailed 34-29 after a quarter of basketball, it made you wonder how the Heat acquired close to 30 after that offensive display. But well, it pretty simply came down to a guy named Caleb Martin, who started in game 6 as expected. 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting was his stat-line heading into the second quarter along with grabbing 5 boards. But they always seem to be timely buckets. Offense completely in the mud, so Butler’s last resort was to let Martin make something out of nothing. And well, he kept doing it. Strong Butler-like drives got him going, right into some open spot-up triples that Boston just won’t adjust away from. He’s been terrific all series long, and that first quarter was all him when Miami had possession of the basketball.
#2: Jimmy Butler looking as uncomfortable as ever.
Watching Jimmy Butler in that first half, you would notice that you are watching a very different version of the guy we’ve seen as of late. 2 for 10 shooting wouldn’t even tell the full story, since it was more-so the lack of ways he could find comfort in the usual spots on the floor. Pump fakes weren’t working, space wasn’t provided with the crashing help, and he had no where near the driving lanes that he once had early in the series. To be completely honest, he simply looked disjointed. Inefficiency around the rim is never a good sign due to that mirroring a defense that packs the paint and forces outside shots. That’s why you saw Miami’s first half begin with threes and end with threes. Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin swooped in to save the day, but that version of Butler was something new.
#3: Oh, Gabe Vincent is back? Oh, Gabe Vincent is back!
As the Heat opened up this game, there was some worry about the mobility of Gabe Vincent’s ankle as he slotted off the ball every possession. Max Strus had an insane usage rate to begin this one, but later on, we saw Vincent step up in a major way. To begin the second quarter, his pull-up threes made an appearance to open up the half-court offense a bit, as he stepped into two very similar looks in the span of a minute. He cuts it to a 2 point game all of a sudden as the Celtics call timeout, but it was mostly about him taking the shots that Butler just wasn’t. Fast forward to a Heat team down double digits with 3 minutes left in the second quarter, the ball swings to an open Vincent for three who capitalizes again. His efficiency inside the arc wasn’t really there in that first half, but at least he was putting pressure on things. Playing that physical and mobile coming off an ankle sprain was unpredictable, yet necessary.
#4: Dealing with Jayson Tatum…then the others.
For the last few games, the Heat have been heavily reacting to on-ball Jayson Tatum, mixing in a ton of blitzes and show and recovers. That has led to a lot of high level passing for the role players to get going in games 4 and 5. Yet in game 6, we saw a lot more of isolation Tatum and man did he get cooking. Miami continued to mix up his defender between Butler and Martin, yet it didn’t seem to matter. He was getting to the basket with ease, which was the biggest difference between Tatum and Butler in this game. One could get to the rim to set up his offensive profile. The other one couldn’t at all. As for the third quarter run by the Celtics, their movement was just much better than Miami’s half-court play. I said before this game the team with better ball and body movement would take the cake, and well…
#5: The fourth quarter…
We see an immediate lineup shift with Duncan Robinson entering for potential offense, and a Kyle Lowry attack and dish to him on the cut shaves the lead to just 3. Heat give up a White three, and Lowry answers with a…post-up bucket? Some fresh legs providing some new offense. 82-78, 9 minutes to go. Robinson answers the phone again with a massive contested triple to cut it to 1, followed with a strong attack into a Butler tip-in. The Heat finally lead. One Brown drive later, the call on the floor is a goal-tend while he takes two free throws, swinging the game majorly back in the other direction. Heat trail 88-83 with under 7 minutes to go. Robinson makes some plays on the offensive end, but none could make up any ground. The Celtics kept responding all over the board, right into a 10 point lead with 4 and a half minutes to go. Fully relying on Robinson and Martin with Butler and Adebayo nowhere to be found. Butler began getting to the line the next few possessions as they entered the bonus, but it was an uphill climb. And well, another Miami Heat scoring run later following a Butler three and some free throw battling, the Heat cut it to 3 with a minute left. Brown goes 1 of 2 from the line, as Butler powers down the court into an and-1 layup. 1 point game. Robinson has a great look, misses it, Smart gets to the line and goes 1 for 2. They push down the floor, and with 2 seconds left, Butler gets fouled. Butler ends up getting fouled with 2 seconds left to take a 1 point lead, and a tip-in at the buzzer puts Miami away. Incredible.