The White Hot Heat edge out the neglected Celtics, and take a 3-0 lead in the ECF


On Sunday night, two NBA teams entered what we call a Miami basketball circuit these days.

But only one appeared.

The Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics, 128-102, giving them a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game four is Tuesday night in Miami. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff game.

It was a team effort by the Heat, and they managed to dominate the Celtics despite a rare ineffective night from Jimmy Butler (16 points on 5-for-13 shooting, with eight rebounds and six assists). Gabe Vincent led the way with 29 points on 11-for-14 shooting, while digging six of his nine looks from deep.

Meanwhile, the Celtics got nothing from their stars. Jason Tatum finished with 14 points from 6-for-18, while Jaylen Brown went 6-for-17 and finished with 12 points. Both players have more turnovers (three) than assists (two).

Stats to know: 54.3% – that’s what Heat shot from the depths. They holed 19 three times. Meanwhile, the Celtics have gone 11-for-42, which is 26.2%. Brown was 0-for-7 for depth. Tatum was 1-7.

During the regular season, the Golden State Warriors averaged more three-pointers per game than the Celtics (16) and shot a better shooting percentage (42.6). The three-pointer has been a major part of the Celtics’ offense all season, and yet, when the Celtics needed him most, it was the Heat who rained him down from deep.

Play the game: To be honest, there was a bunch of Bam Adebayo dunks to choose from. He had some monster finishing touches — and kudos to him for realizing he’s big and strong and should try to dunk balls, not jump high from eight feet — but that connection with Duncan Robinson was more symbolic of how the heat is able to break into a series D.

This is Duncan Robinson, not exactly the most powerful jumper, dusting off elite defender in Derrick White. He’s able to make room because, after making just 32.8% of his 3-point attempts during the regular season and out of the Heat’s rotation, Robinson rediscovered his hitting during the playoffs.

Coming into Game 3, he had drilled 42% deep looks — in 5.5 attempts per game — and was 5-for-7 on Sunday night. He finished with 22 points and, more impressively, four assists. Robinson’s revival played a huge role in the Heat’s miraculous playoff run.

Quote from the night: It’s not a quote, but to paraphrase, a few pictures are worth a thousand words:

Next to heat: At this point, it appears that all Miami needs in order to secure a sweep and a trip to the Finals is simply to show up. We can assume they won’t dig 54.3% out of 3s again, but they’ve also shown they can win playoffs in a number of different ways.

Next up for the Celtics: Maybe they can actually try? The fall of some jumpers would no doubt boost their energy level, but they also didn’t show any combat in the third game. So, after trailing the Heat 3-0 and facing ridiculously long odds, are they out on the juice or are they already dreaming of Cancun?

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. is an author Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Daring Operation in Professional Sports History. To follow him on Twitter @tweet.

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