In the third quarter of Boston’s Game 6 matchup with Miami, Goran Dragic took a 3-pointer that took a long, unusually high bounce before falling through the bottom of the net.
Moments later, Bam Adebayo took a free throw-line jumper that, like Dragic’s early shot, took a high bounce before settling through the nets for another basket.
At the other end of the court, you had Boston Celtics players missing open lay-ups and put-back attempts that would ultimately seal their fate and in doing so, put an end to their season sooner than expected.
It was that kind of game - no, scratch that; it was that kind of series - for the Celtics who time and time again, came up short to the Miami Heat who closed out the Eastern Conference finals with a 125-113 Game 6 win, with Miami outscoring Boston 37-27 in the fourth.
Boston's season coming to an end at the hands of a strong fourth quarter by Miami was indicative of how this series played out as the Heat move on to the NBA Finals to face the Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston’s season will once again come to a close sooner than many anticipated for the Celtics.
Last season, Boston’s season ended with a five-game “Gentleman’s sweep” at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.
The problems with that team have been well documented, leading to significant changes such as Kyrie Irving and Al Horford leaving for Brooklyn and Philadelphia, respectively.
But this team was supposed to be different and in many ways it was.
They played more together, seemed to be pulling for one another during good times and not-so-good ones.
However, that didn’t’ matter down the stretch in the most important game of the season.
The Celtics simply wilted under the pressure of the more physical, more potent, more together Heat team which did all the little and not-so-little things necessary to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
Bam Adebayo: He set the tone early on by getting to the free-throw line. He continued to dominate the action at both ends of the floor before finishing the game with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
Jayson Tatum: The slow start we’ve seen of late from Jayson Tatum didn’t last too long in Game 6 as the Celtics All-Star got it going in the second quarter and continued to deliver in a multitude of ways at both ends of the floor. Tatum would finish the night with his 14th double-double of the playoffs and fourth in this series with 24 points and 11 rebounds to go with seven assists.
Jaylen Brown: He would finish with a strong game of 26 points and eight rebounds. But after a dunk in which he landed awkwardly after contact on the drive was made by Jimmy Butler, Brown was never the same. Still, Game 6 was yet another game in which Brown’s impact was a positive one for Boston.
Andre Iguodala: The former Finals MVP delivered the kind of game all title-worthy teams need in close-out games. Iggy came off the Heat bench and knocked down one big shot after another before finishing the game with 15 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting performance from the field.
Gordon Hayward: The Celtics didn’t need him to have a great game, but Hayward had a number of missed opportunities that Boston desperately needed. Late in the second quarter, he turned the ball over with Boston trailing by just a single point with an opportunity to take the lead. And in the third quarter, he missed a wide-open lay-up that would have cut Miami’s lead to a single point.
Near the end of the third, Hayward had a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner that would have given Boston a one-point lead with a few ticks on the game clock, but that shot - like most of Hayward’s shots - was off the mark. Those were just some of the opportunities missed that would ultimately seal Boston’s fate. His final stat line for the game was 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
Brad Stevens: Game 6 was no different than most of the games Boston lost to Miami in this series; games filled with questionable decisions and nondecisions by Brad Stevens. His decision to go back to Daniel Theis instead of riding with Grant Williams (the team’s best defender on Bam Adebayo) was a huge blow to Boston’s efforts down the stretch.
Theis would eventually foul out, Adebayo would finish strong and the Celtics, even when they went back to Williams, Miami had the game’s momentum and would not relinquish it as the Heat would pull away for the win.