Before Game 4, Jaylen Brown prayed, “Don’t let us win tonight.”
Well, Brown had reason for optimism since his Boston Celtics, who were down 3-0 in the series, had just forced a Game 7 against the Miami Heat with an instant classic.
Boston, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, was defeated by the Heat, the No. 8 seed who had a Cinderella run, in each of the first three games of the Finals.
The Heat are currently one defeat away from becoming Cinderella turned failure, while the Celtics are one victory away from making history.
Derrick White inbounded to Marcus Smart, who missed a three, but White followed the shot and his tip-in just barely beat the buzzer by a tenth of a second to send the series back to Boston as Boston won 104-103 after Jimmy Butler made three free throws to give the Heat a one-point lead with 3.0 seconds left.
Duncan Robinson made a long three with just over eight and a half minutes remaining to get Miami within one. Jimmy Butler’s tip-in gave Miami, who had been down by as much as 13, their first lead since it was 11-9 after Boston missed a shot.
Butler and Miami were able to tie the game with less than a minute left after Boston responded by going on a 16-5 run to re-establish a double-digit lead.
After Jayson Tatum missed a layup, Robinson missed a three-point effort that would have sent Miami into a frenzy. Miami was behind by two points with the shot clock winding down, and Smart made one of his two free throw tries.
On the bench, Butler could be seen imploring his team to make “one stop.”
He was mistaken; they required two.
White scored 11 points, but the game’s final two were the most significant. Brown scored 26, Tatum scored 31, and Smart added 21. Tatum and Brown each grabbed 10 rebounds.
Butler had trouble making shots from the floor, making only five out of his 21 attempts.He did sink 12 free throws for a total of 24 points.
In an NBA series, 151 teams have fallen behind 3-0.The Celtics became the first club since the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers to force a Game 7 in NBA history despite trailing three games to none. The Dallas Mavericks had defeated them in their first three meetings, but despite dropping the first three, the Mavs prevailed in Game 7.The three clubs who forced a Game 7 were all away teams.On Monday night, Game 7 will be held in Boston.
The Celtics would become the first club in NBA history to win a series after dropping the first three games if they prevail in Game 7. Four times in the NHL, it has occurred, but Boston is no stranger to legendary comebacks.
The 2004 Boston Red Sox became the only team in Major League Baseball history to accomplish this feat, coming back against their bitter rival New York Yankees before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.