White’s Buzzer-Beating Tip Stuns Miami, Puts Celtics on Track for NBA Finals

Saturday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs could go down as an all-time moment after the Boston Celtics stunned the Miami Heat with a buzzer-beating offensive rebound and tip in a 104-103 win to keep their season alive and force Game 7. Boston is the first team in NBA history down 3-0 to force a Game 7 that will be played at home.

The Strangest of Games

Jayson Tatum
Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

Boston controlled play for most of the night, but this will go down as one of the oddest Game 6s in NBA history, especially if the Celtics make history by becoming the first team to rally all the way back from 3-0.

The Celtics survived this game despite only shooting 7-of-35 (20%) from 3 as only Marcus Smart and Derrick White made anything from distance. Those two would also be involved on the game-deciding basket. Boston’s 7 made 3s and 20% shooting were the worst of the season for the Celtics.

The Heat shot 35.5% from the field but were still in the game thanks to only having 5 turnovers and shooting 14-of-30 from 3. That means Miami was an abysmal 19-of-63 (30.2%) from 2-point territory with Jimmy Butler (5-for-21) and Bam Adebayo (4-for-16) both struggling throughout the game.

Miami has four games in the last two seasons where it shot under 40% from 2-point range, and all four games were against Boston.

The Frantic Finish

Miami trailed by double digits multiple times in the game, but Boston’s inability to hit from 3 kept the game close. So did Miami’s role players on a night where the stars were not shining.

But in the fourth quarter, Duncan Robinson came alive with a deep 3, then helped set up Butler on a tip for Miami to take its first lead since early in the first quarter. But the Celtics quickly came back from that 83-82 deficit with an 8-0 run and eventually led 98-88 with under 4 minutes left.

The Heat already had six comeback wins from a double-digit deficit this postseason, but this was fixing to be the wildest yet. Boston’s offense went cold while Butler finally hit a 3 and started getting calls to go to the foul line in a game with many whistles.

Robinson missed two wide-open 3s late in the game, including one when Miami trailed 101-100 with 21.9 seconds left. Just when it did not feel like Miami’s night, Smart missed a free throw and kept the door open in a 2-point game.

Butler drew a foul on a 3-point attempt working against Al Horford, and he made all the free throws to give Miami a 103-102 lead. But on review, the clock was adjusted from 2.1 seconds to 3.0 seconds, which made all the difference with Boston having a timeout.

Smart missed the go-ahead 3, but Derrick White, who was the inbounder, was the hero of the season by having a clear path to the basket to get the tip in on the offensive rebound and beat the buzzer for the thrilling 104-103 win. Another tenth of a second and he would have been too late, and the Heat would be in the NBA Finals.

It was always going to take a wild set of circumstances for a team to come back from 3-0, and this finish combined with the Celtics having home court against the No. 8 seed may prove to be the difference.

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