Each time the Miami Warmth win Sport 1, they go on to win the sequence.
What’s been true for the Warmth in every of their earlier two playoff sequence must be equally regarding for a Boston Celtics workforce that forfeited home-court benefit with a 123-116 loss at TD Backyard within the series-opener on Wednesday.
The Warmth are going to stroll onto your house ground, and in case your workforce isn’t prepared for a dogfight, Miami goes to beat you.
It’s what they did of their first-round stunner at Milwaukee’s FiServ Discussion board earlier than eliminating the conference-favorite Bucks in 5 video games. And it’s how the Warmth superior previous the Knicks in six video games within the second spherical, first by stealing home-court benefit with a Sport 1 victory at Madison Sq. Backyard.
There’s one thing nearly emasculating about an underdog successful Sport 1 on the street. Simply ask the Celtics followers who booed their dwelling workforce off the courtroom after an embarrassing efficiency with a visit to the NBA Finals on the road.
Historical past favors the workforce that wins the series-opener. Seventy-eight % of the groups that take a 1-0 sequence lead go on to win their playoff sequence.
These numbers favor the Warmth greater than another workforce in current reminiscence. The Warmth received Sport 1 as an underdog every spherical as a fifth seed within the 2020 NBA Playoffs on their strategy to the NBA Finals, the place they ultimately misplaced to LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, the Warmth are at it once more. Head coach Erik Spoelstra informed a reporter “you’re getting manner too forward of your self,” however the imaginative and prescient of his workforce’s journey to the NBA Finals is as clear because it’s been all season.
Particularly if Jimmy Butler continues to play like this.
Butler put the league again on discover when he hung 56 factors on the purported league-best Milwaukee Bucks protection. He performed on a nasty ankle and nonetheless had his manner with Tom Thibodeau’s vaunted Knicks protection, and in Sport 1 towards the Celtics on Wednesday, he hung 35 factors on 48% capturing from the sphere and got here up with six steals, together with the game-sealing interception with lower than a minute left within the fourth quarter.
Butler is averaging 31.5 factors per recreation by means of 11 playoff video games. The better impression, Spoelstra says, is the impact the All-Star wing has on his teammates, notably when video games start to get shaky.
The Celtics constructed a 13-point first-half lead, however the Warmth labored to stop the deficit from ballooning getting into halftime. They then outscored the Celtics, 46-25, within the third quarter alone.
And for each bucket Butler scored, three extra got here from his teammates. Bam Adebayo scored 20 factors, and Gabe Vincent, Kyle Lowry, Max Struss and Caleb Martin every scored 15 apiece.
Spoelstra mentioned it’s the assumption in Butler’s skills that brings ease to the remainder of the workforce.
“You may’t quantify it. There’s no analytic to it. Simply the sensation of stability within the locker room,” he mentioned. “Even once you’re down 9 within the first half, we performed poorly, however we now have to credit score Boston as a result of they made us play poorly. There’s only a settling impact that’s not possible to quantify. We’re in putting distance. Let’s simply settle into our video games. Jimmy’ll make a bunch of performs, Bam will make a bunch of performs and we’ll settle into our roles. However that’s simply what the good gamers do.”
And after Wednesday night time, the assumption in Jayson Tatum has wavered.
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No participant seemed extra misplaced within the closing minutes of Sport 1 than Tatum, who completed with 30 factors on 9-of-17 capturing from the sphere and an ideal 11-of-11 from the foul line however choked the sport away within the remaining closing possessions.
Tatum turned the ball over 4 instances in Sport 1, however three of these giveaways got here within the recreation’s remaining 3:19. The Celtics’ MVP candidate forgot learn how to play basketball, touring on back-to-back possessions. He disappeared from the sport within the fourth quarter and solely scored on a pair of free throws within the recreation’s remaining 5 minutes.
This is similar celebrity in Tatum who buried the Philadelphia 76ers with a 51-point efficiency in Sport 7 of the second spherical.
The Celtics trailed that sequence, 3-2, earlier than coming again to win in seven.
If Tatum may be that particular towards the Warmth, the Celtics can have an opportunity to flip the sequence again into their favor in an try and make a second consecutive NBA Finals look.
One factor is for sure: These Warmth aren’t the 76ers. These Warmth are perennial playoff hunters.
And after Sport 1, the Celtics seem like the hunted.