Heat Celtics
Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) shoots over Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Heat Set to Begin ECF Against Celtics

The Miami Heat will take on the Boston Celtics Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. in TD Garden.

This is the third time in four seasons that the Heat and Celtics will battle for the chance to represent the East in the NBA Finals. The Heat were victorious in 2020, while the Celtics came out on top last season.

Miami finished the regular season with the seventh-best record in the East, but fell to the No. 8 seed after losing the first play-in tournament game to the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat are only the second team in NBA history to make the conference finals as a No. 8 seed. The 1999 New York Knicks were the only other No. 8 seed to make the conference finals.

Miami took down the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks and No. 5 seeded Knicks to advance this far. Jimmy Butler has largely been the reason for the Heat’s postseason resurgence. He has raised his points per game from 22.9 to 31.1, an 8.2 PPG increase.

Butler will not be able to carry the load by himself if the Heat hope to to make their seventh NBA Finals appearance. Bam Adebayo performed well against Boston this season, averaging 25 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Adebayo will need to play at a similar level to give the Heat a chance.

The Heat will also need to play much better defensively against the Celtics’ stars. Despite going 2-2 against the Celtics this season, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown filled the stat sheet. Tatum averaged 30.8 PPG on 47% shooting, while Brown averaged 30.3 PPG on 57.6% shooting against Miami this year.

The Heat also need their role players to step up in the continued absence of Tyler Herro. Herro averaged 20.5 PPG against Boston this year, but remains out indefinitely. Herro broke his hand in Game 1 against the Bucks and is still recovering from surgery.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals will begin at 8:30 Wednesday night.

About Ryan Hirsh

Ryan Hirsh is a junior Journalism student at the University of Florida with a Sport Media specialization and a certificate in Sport Management. He is a sports-focused creative videographer and editor from Greenwich, CT.

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