Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Celtics in Game 6

The Miami Heat force a game 7.

While the Tv shows were previewing a Celtics-Warriors Finals, the Heat were preparing a gameplan to go into TD Garden.

Jimmy Butler went LeBron James game 6 mode and absolutely dominated.

Here are some takeaways…

#1: Jimmy Butler entering that mode.

Coming into game 6, I had a consistent blueprint for the Heat. And well, that was Jimmy Butler. To put up a fight, they were going to need a LeBron like game 6 in Boston, and a 21/9/6 half-time stat-line was a decent start you’d say. He was attacking the basket to create perimeter shots, knocking down the outside jumper, and saving Miami late in the shot-clock. He was it for their half-court sets. Right before tip-off he walked from the bench to the scorer’s table for his usual hand-shake routine. The only change: no smile, no reactions. That’s the LeBron comp in that sense. He needed to be superman early on for Miami to give that opening punch, and he was just that.

#2: Boston’s defense forcing Miami’s passive players to make plays early.

Looking on the other end, there were times in that half where we were once again discussing the need for Butler help. But before talking about that, it’s important to mention what Boston was doing. It was clear in that first half Max Strus and Duncan Robinson weren’t the fits in this game. The Celtics were forcing him to catch the ball high to turn into a ball-handler, which is when they would pounce. That is the reason I said during the game they’d have to transition into all defensive lineups with the Vincent-Lowry back-court making a comeback, which is exactly what happened. The other guy Boston was forcing aggressiveness on was Bam Adebayo. He was searching for hand-offs, he was loose with the ball, and the attacks weren’t there. It was measured from the Celtics side, as he got his first couple baskets under a minute to go in the second quarter, 23 minutes into the game. But this topic just speaks to what Butler was doing even more.


#3: The free throw battle.

Looking at the free throw comparisons over the last 3 games, they’re pretty absurd. The Celtics continues to get to the line, while the Heat continue to struggle in that department. But I won’t go immediately to one-sided calls. Yes there are times when the whistle may sway, but this is an example of schematics. The Celtics current offensive structure is for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to make drives in the slots for force back-line rotations. The usual outcome is a take to the rim for potential contact. While that was the Heat’s gameplan for Butler for some time, the injury shifted things. He was a methodical transition and jumper threat in that first half, which led into some sprays for outside shots. That’s the key though: Butler and 3 point shooting goes hand in hand. The counter to a charity stripe disparity is balancing that middle ground, which was clicking in that first half.

#4: Third quarter: Butler getting the help he deserves.

The theme entering the second quarter: who would give Butler the necessary help? Or would it ever come? To kick off the third quarter, he came out clicking just like the first half. But the biggest difference: so did the supporting cast. A stretch that as crucial included a Victor Oladipo insertion after PJ Tucker’s 4th foul, leading to a big floater followed up by a massive step back jumper with Robert Williams hovering. Right after that, Strus flowed into the half-court as Lowry pushed pace, and Strus took a deep pull-up that extended the lead to 12. But then, Boston responded. The Heat began to ease up and the Celtics continued getting to the rim and the line, cutting it immediately to 6. Timeout. Yet, they responded again. Butler continued getting to his spots, but the crowd was on Boston’s side. Arena roaring, Butler driving, Oladipo swinging, Strus shooting. Silence. He loves quieting that crowd, and that shot was as big as any.

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#5: Forcing a game 7.

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