While expected to be an even series, primed to go six or seven games, each game so far has tilted heavily in favor of one team.
The Heat won Game 1 118-107. The Celtics won Game 2 127-102. The Heat won Game 3 109-103 (Miami led by 21 after the first quarter). Then, the Celtics won Game 4 102-82.
Now, heading into Game 5, with anyone’s guess as to how the next two or three games will go, Shannon Sharpe tried to make sense of it all, sticking with his Boston pick due to the simple fact that Jayson Tatum has been the most consistent player in the series.
“Everybody shot the ball poorly. The Heat was 33% from the floor. The Celtics were under 40% from the floor. The Celts were under 24% from the 3.”
Sharpe has a point, specifically when it comes to Miami’s Jimmy Butler.
In the first two games of the series, Butler averaged 35.0 points per game on 62.1% shooting. Since then, in Games 3 and 4, Butler has statistically fallen off a cliff, averaging seven points on 29.4% shooting.
Nick Wright hammered that point home, discussing the inconsistency of the Heat offense as a major point of confusion, especially Butler.
Despite Butler’s struggles, Miami emerged victorious in Game 3 primarily thanks to the 31-point, 10-rebound, six-assist effort from Bam Adebayo. But even he has been up and down.
In Game 1, Adebayo scored 10 points and pulled down four rebounds. Game 2, he scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds. He then exploded in Game 3, before posted nine points and six boards in Game 4.
“Will the real Bad Adebayo please step forward?” Sharpe said.
Despite the tug-of-war nature of the series, Chris Broussard said Tuesday that he believes the Celtics to be the better team, which they proved by winning convincingly in a do-or-die Game 4, and that that ability to lock in will ultimately be the deciding factor in the East finals.
“The Celtics’ Game 4 win was more about Boston’s win. They had to win. If they had lost the series, would’ve been all but over. We all know how hard it is to come back from a 3-1 deficit. … I do think the Celtics are the better team.”
Who will represent the East in the NBA Finals?
Chris Broussard shares his thoughts on the Eastern Conference finals and whether he thinks Boston will run away with the series.
So far in the East finals, the winning team has held a 20-plus point lead at some point in each game. In Game 1, Miami’s largest lead was 20 points. In Game 2, Boston’s was 34. The Heat punched back and led by 26 points in Game 3, and most recently, Boston led by 32 points on Monday night.
During this year’s NBA playoffs, there have been 22 games decided by 20 or more points, the second-most for a single postseason in NBA history, dating back to 1951. The only year with more was 2015-16, when there were 24 such games.
There is still time to break that record — especially if the Eastern Conference finals keeps it up.
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