How The Miami Heat Can Beat The Boston Celtics

You’ve probably seen the stat before: The Miami Heat are the 2nd No. 8 seed ever to make it this far in the NBA playoffs.

The thing about this team and organization is that the milestone is not going to be satisfying enough. They have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the past four years and they have no interest in settling for a pat on the back that puts them back home in June.

The feisty, gritty and determined group have a talent disparity staring them in the face when they head into Boston on Wednesday night. Even with that being said there are plenty of ways that the Heat can come away victorious.

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Both teams are dead even in turnover percentage in the NBA playoffs with a 12.3 mark. That puts them within the top-five among teams that have played this postseason, which is impressive because they both are producing better numbers during the playoffs compared to the regular season.

The difference is that the Heat currently rank as, easily, the best team left in the playoffs at creating turnovers. The reason this is notable is because this was the bugaboo of the Boston Celtics last year during the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. They averaged over 18 turnovers per game during the four losses in that series.

On top of that, the last time these two teams met up in the playoffs last year the Heat were +15 in total turnovers in the three games that they won.

The Celtics have also seen these struggles crop up a couple of times in the playoffs. They have found themselves on the losing end of the turnover battle in their losses, even though they haven’t fumbled the ball nearly as much as they did last June. They’ve still come out victorious in some of the games in which they’ve turned it over quite a bit, but against an incredibly disciplined team that could prove costly. The Heat won the turnover competition in six of their eight wins during this postseason.

An area in which the Heat are able to tip the scales on this end is by drawing charges. They often are able to bring in a help defender to jump into a driver’s lane to the basket before he is able to launch up toward the basket. The NBA tracking data currently has Miami as the number one team in the playoffs at drawing charges with 1.45 per game. The team in second place has only been able to draw one per game.

Don’t be surprised if Kyle Lowry draws a charge call down the stretch that tips the balance in one of the games.


The Heat were able to torch the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1st round by draining an absurd 42.2 percent of their 3-pointers. They cooled off against the Knicks in the next round but have been willing to bomb away from deep. The team was top-10 in 3-point frequency during the season and have only increased their proportion of shots from deep. They’re second among the four teams left in the playoffs in taking three-pointers, trailing only the team they’re set to face off against.

The Celtics have been a great shooting team but have only improved as the playoffs have rolled along. They’re canning over 40 percent of their looks, which makes them the only team in the playoffs to eclipse that mark. It’s even a couple of percentage points higher than what they posted during the regular season.

The Knicks felt forced to blitz Jimmy Butler with two defenders, which gave the other options on the Heat opportunities to capitalize from deep. They, mostly, failed to do this. Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics head coach, might feel forced to do the same if Jimmy Butler is able to start off hot in Boston. That should give Miami a chance to capture the same magic they had against the Bucks.

On defense, the Heat forced the Knicks into situations in which they had shaky shooters take open 3-pointers. This ran contrary to how New York wanted to play, which led to some inefficiency on the part of the Knicks. Boston is certainly willing and able to do that with their personnel. It’ll be interesting to see how the Heat try to challenge the Celtics on the 3-point arc, and if they can pour some cold water on their hot shooting.


Maybe the most defining characteristic of this Heat team is the many ways in which it hustles and repeats the fundamentals. They may not be the best rebounding team in the NBA, but they have the best rate of boxing out in the playoffs by a healthy margin. It’s an area of control that is not fickle like shooting percentages. It’s one of the many reasons that the Heat will rarely get blown out.

They lead the league during the playoffs in deflections with a total of 190. They have recovered 7.3 loose balls per game, which is easily the highest in the NBA and nearly three more than the Celtics grab per game. They do the things that help teams win.

It is because of these reasons why it may be confusing to see them winning a game when a box score would indicate otherwise. They do everything that a coach wants and it may be enough to steal this series from the current favorite to win the title.

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