The Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat in Game 7 on their trip to the NBA Finals


Miami – For the Boston Celtics, winning the Eastern Conference Finals is nothing new. Reaching the NBA Finals, which the franchise has so far won 22 times, isn’t something to celebrate much. They like to say that the Celtics don’t put up those banners. No place among 17 in the rafters to win NBA championships.

But it was new to the players who made this Eastern Conference tournament.

A star couple in their mid-20s, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum, have made it to the conference finals multiple times, but not until Sunday. The Celtics beat the Miami Heat, 100-96, in Game 7 to win the East and will face Golden State in the NBA Finals starting Thursday in San Francisco. The 15-year-old veteran American basketball player at Al Horford will make his finals debut with Boston. Marcus Smart, 28, a strong defensive player, is in his eighth season with the Celtics. They bounced around, crashed into their chests, hugged each other and screamed.

“Obviously we know we want to win the championship, okay,” Tatum said, “but to get over that hump the way we did, obviously we took the hardest path possible. Then winning Game 7 and going to a championship on the road is special.”

More than four months have passed since the file was transferred Celtics He seems determined to keep going. Behind Tatum and Brown, defeated Boston the heat On Sunday to win the group 4-3. Tatum was named Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Conference Finals, a new honor this season. The trophy is named after Celtics icon Larry Bird.

Warriors trying resuscitation strain Which was on hiatus, is continuing its fourth championship in eight seasons. Golden State, the third seed in the Western Conference, will have an advantage at home over Boston, the second seed, because they had a better regular season record, winning 53 games to Boston’s 51.

The Celtics last won their title in 2008, when many of the top players on this year’s roster were elementary school students.

Under the leadership of Ime Udoka, their first-year coach, the Celtics have already crafted a comeback story to remember. It wasn’t until late January that they figured out how to defend, share the ball, and win with any semblance of consistency.

In the post-season, the Celtics eliminated a host of brightest NBA stars and potential contenders: the Nets, led by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, In the first round; Current Champions, Milwaukee Bucks, In the semi-finals of the conference; And now, the top-seeded Heat, who, in Game 7, couldn’t face the desperation with which he played Game 6 when he first faced elimination.

All this after the Celtics filled the first two months of the regular season with some of the most mouth-watering basketball games on the East Coast. Forget about tournament competition: Can they even make the playoffs? They appeared in a strict chase from the gutter.

The Celtics started to get into the depths early, in November, when the Chicago Bulls lost their record to 2-5 and Clever He used his platform after the match to tear apart Tatum and Brown to bluff the ball.

We’ve been tested,” Brown said Sunday night. “We have been through a lot. We have learned a lot over the years and now the stage is at its brightest. We have to apply everything we have learned in these moments.”

By mid-January, the Celtics lost to Philadelphia 21-22, and 76ers player Joel Embiid described Boston as an easy-to-defend “heavyweight team.”

Even some of Odoka’s oldest friends were wondering if he could unleash the team’s potential. Kendrick Williams, the youth coach who helped Odoka launch Amateur Athletic Union Team In 2006, when Odoka was still patrolling the NBA grounds as a powerhouse striker, he remembered communicating with him via text message when the Celtics were struggling.

And he was like, ‘Man, you know I’m not paranoid. “You know we’re going to get it right,” Williams said. “He was so confident, he made me feel so comfortable.”

Odoka emphasized from the start of the bootcamp – and even during his introductory press conference last summer – The importance of ball movement. It remained one of the staples of his film sessions as the Celtics had growing pains, and it was the message that eventually took hold.

“You start to realize how hard it is to win,” Tatum said. “You start asking yourself: Are you good enough to be that guy? But I think you just trust yourself, you trust the work you’re doing to get to this point and keep working, and it can’t rain forever. The good days were coming.”

Before facing the Celtics volleyball 76ers again in mid-February, Odoka reminded his players of Embiid’s comments. The Celtics exited the game and won by 48 points over Philadelphia to achieve their ninth consecutive victory.

But that was just one part of the Celtics’ winning formula. Led by Smart, the award-winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the Celtics have emerged as a fierce group of defenders, bolstered by a pair of mid-season acquisitions: Derek White, a guard from the San Antonio Spurs, and Daniel Theis, a defensive-minded center from the Houston Rockets. who started his career in Boston.

After winning 28 of their 35 games to conclude the regular season, the Celtics crushed the Nets by four games in the first round of the playoffs. Even before the series ended, Irving was telling reporters that the Celtics’ window was “Currently. After the sweep was completed, Durant predicted Boston had a chance.To do some big things. “

Boston and Miami traded victories in the first four games of the conference finals, then the Celtics became the first to score two victories together. Miami scored 33.3 percent in Game 4, then 31.9 percent in Game 5 – both lopsided defeats.

At that point, at least one Golden State player thought he knew how the Eastern Conference Finals would turn out. after, after Golden State defeated Dallas in the Western Conference Finals On Thursday, forward Draymond Green said during his TNT post-game appearance that he expects to play for the Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Instead, Heitt and Butler in particular refused to abdicate.

With their season on the line in Game 6, Butler scored 47 points on the road in Boston, leading the winner to win it all in Game Seven in Miami.

Boston opened Game 7 in round 9-1, and Miami spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.

A quarter later, the Celtics led by 15 points, holding Miami with 17 points, 6 of them via Butler. When Hit retreated, it was largely because of him. He scored 18 points in the second quarter and helped the Heat cut their deficit to just 6 in the first half.

They got closer at the start of the fourth inning, when two quick baskets from the Heat made it 82-79. But then the Boston defense forced Miami to spend nearly five minutes of playing time without scoring.

Butler played every second of the deciding match and gave the Heat one last chance. With 16.6 seconds left in the game, and Boston leading by 2, Butler paused for a triple pointer. Having fallen victim to butler’s heroics in the past, the Celts held their breath.

“I was like, man, what the hell is this,” Brown said.

“Not again,” Smart said he thought at that moment.

Butler’s bullet did not fall. He finished the match with 35 points.

Had the Heat won, it would have been the second time in the three years since Butler came to Miami that the Heat had reached the NBA Finals. Butler said after the match that he didn’t know he played every 48 minutes.

“I feel like with every second I played, I should have done more, I could have done better to turn this into a win,” he said.

The Celtics players and coaches ran towards each other when the last bell sounded, then circled around the middle of the field in glee.

Horford fell to his knees and hit the ground with his hands.

“I didn’t know how to act,” he later said, then turned to Brown, who is ten years his junior, and laughed.

Celtics fans who stayed in the crowd made their way to the bottom bowl to celebrate the silent conference championship that always comes when the team wins it on the road. The chants of “Let’s Go Celtics” rang out in the discharge arena, and sometimes the players on the field acted like conductors of the orchestra directing the choir.

Tatum hugged the Larry Bird trophy and lifted it into the air as he walked toward the tunnel off the field, while fans arrived to try and touch it.

“You can’t help but smile and enjoy the moment on the court,” Odoka said. “It’s kind of forcing on you, seeing the joy with the guys. And it’s all about these guys.”

He was already beginning to think about what awaited them in San Francisco.