Celtics star Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle on the first offensive possession of Game 7 on Monday night and Boston never recovered in a 103–84 blowout loss to Miami that sent the Heat to the NBA Finals.
Despite playing 42 minutes, Tatum never looked right, and he lamented the injury after the game.
“It was just frustrating that I was … a shell of myself,” Tatum began. “It was tough to move. Just frustrating, it happening on the first play.”
Tatum couldn’t move side-to-side, and appeared to move worse and worse as the game went on. The supporting cast faltered as the game went on, thanks in part to the Heat realizing Tatum’s limitations. It was a lot of 4-on-5 offense for the Celtics during much of the second half, with Tatum relegated to the corner of the floor and unable to attack the basket.
Boston started the game 0-for-10 from three in the first quarter, marking the first time all season the Celtics failed to make a single three-pointer in the first quarter, according to Tom Haberstroh. Boston eventually finished 9-for-42 from deep, a second consecutive abysmal three-point performance following a 7-for-35 effort in Game 6.
Miami, on the other hand, shot 14-of-28 from deep and were paced by Jimmy Butler’s 28 points and Caleb Martin’s continued offensive ascension, as he scored 26 points including a bunch of run-stopping shots when the Heat needed them the most.
The Heat are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2020, while Boston will head into a pivotal summer in which Jaylen Brown is eligible for a supermax contract extension coming off his second-team All-NBA selection.
But will Boston want to pay it? Brown’s eight turnovers in Game 7 were a stark reminder of his limitations despite his elite shooting ability.
More questions than answers await Boston this offseason, while Butler, Martin and the Heat will look to capture an NBA title against the Western Conference champion Nuggets.