In January, the Boston Celtics occupied the East’s 11th seed. Thanks to some smart moves by rookie GM Brad Stevens, they’re now one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.
As they’ve done six times on the road this postseason, Boston beat Miami in Game 5 of the conference finals with stifling defense. The Heat were held to 80 points — the third-fewest in a playoff game this year.
The Celtics have simply overpowered the Heat on both sides of the ball.
- The Heat averaged 110 PPG in the regular season — the Celtics have held them to 98.2.
- Miami was the most efficient 3PT shooting team in the regular season (39.7%), but went 7-45 (15.6%) from three in Game 5, the second-lowest 3PT% ever on 40+ attempts.
- Boston is scoring 106.4 PPG on 35.3% 3PT this series, with a 113.0 offensive rating second to only the Warriors.
As Celtics coach, Stevens lost in the Conference Finals three times, but he’s faring much better as GM, masterfully manipulating the NBA’s 11th-highest payroll ($138M) for maximum returns.
Stevens traded Kemba Walker to reacquire Al Horford (2 YRs, 53.5M), re-signed Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart on a bargain (4 YRs, $77M), and successfully gambled on first-year coach Ime Udoka.
The series is now Boston’s to lose — and the C’s haven’t lost two consecutive games since March 30.