Derrick White’s dramatic, last-second putback shot propelled the Boston Celtics to shock Miami Heat, 104-103, in a nail-biting Game 6 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday night.
White soared to the rim after Marcus Smart missed his potential game-winning trey, absorbing the basketball soul of the entire Kaseya Center crowd who have thought they are finally set to march to the NBA Finals after Jimmy Butler sank three foul shots prior to the play to put them ahead with a one-point margin with three seconds remaining in regulation.
The veteran guard’s critical hustle allowed the Celtics to become the fourth team in NBA playoff history to force a Game 7 after facing an 0-3 edge. As such, they are the first higher seed team ever to force a knockout match upong being down against a commanding series deficit.
On the other hand, White’s game-winner can’t be more of a devastating blow at the side of the Heat. The club was able to come back from being down 10 with 4:56 left and even snatched the lead after Butler sank his last free throw. In the blink of an eye, they are now heading back to Beantown upon fumbling three-straight opportunities to stamp their spot to the title round.
Jayson Tatum powered the resilient Celtics team with 31 points and 11 boards, while Jaylen Brown tallied 26 markers and 10 rebounds. For the second-straight game, Marcus Smart emerged huge at the offensive end, finishing with 21 points and four treys.
Butler and Bam Adebayo struggled throughout the night with a combined 35 points and 9-of-37 shooting. The trio of Caleb Martin (21), Gabe Vincent (15) and Duncan Robinson (13) mostly carried the load of the Heat on the painful Game 6 loss.
All of a sudden, the one-sided East Finals bout has shifted to a do-or-die seventh game for the right to advance to the championship stage. Boston will host the do-or-die showdown between both clubs on Monday night.
For the second-straight year, Boston and Miami will go for a Game 7 in the Conference Finals. Per NBA Communications, this is the first time that the same teams will meet in Game 7 of the Conference Finals in back-to-back years since the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers (1981-1982).
The Celtics notably survived last year and went on to face the eventual champions in the Golden State Warriors.