It’s been an odd Eastern Conference Finals so far, with the Boston Celtics holding the lead for nearly 3/4 of total play, but trailing 2-1 in games. That’s because the Miami Heat rallied from both 14 and 17 point deficits in the first two games, and then nearly rallied from another big deficit in Game 3.
So, it does seem as if momentum is on Boston’s side entering Game 4. The Celtics have Gordon Hayward back to soak up bench minutes and counter Miami’s zone; Jaylen Brown has found his offense; and Goran Dragic finally appeared a bit gassed after a brilliant stretch.
Here are three keys to Miami regaining control:
- Make shots: Sounds simple, but the Heat were the top three-point shooting team, by percentage, in the NBA this season, and aren’t prone to prolonged droughts. They missed 15 straight 3-points in one segment of Game 3, so it’s remarkable they made the game competitive at the end. It’s safe to assume that Dragic (provided he has his legs), Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro will find the range, but Miami needs former Celtics Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk to make the ones the Celtics are giving them.
- A shot of coffee for Jimmy Butler: The CEO of Big Face Coffee has had sleepy offensive starts in this series, and in Game 3 he didn’t get much going at all. He tends to play better when challenged than when in a frontrunner spot, so figure on him being more aggressive initially in Game 4 to keep the series from sliding away. He doesn’t need to score 30, but he needs to be the fulcrum of Miami’s aggression. Other players feed off him.
- Bam keeping Bamming: So much for the silly thought that Daniel Theis vs. Bam Adebayo was a wash. Adebayo has been the Heat’s best player in this series, and Miami should go to him even more. At times, it can be clunky offensively, but as the Celtics go small, Adebayo can abuse the switches. Especially if Dragic is lagging, the Heat can run more offense through their center as well, especially the dribble handoffs with Robinson.
The Better Bet: Heat by 8. Miami finally gets the complete effort and seize control of the series.
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-- Analysis by Juicy J