NBA Power Rankings: Suns on top but heat climbing fast


A few teams that have been hot most of the season — Chicago and Golden State, for example — have stumbled of late. That opened the door for the Grizzlies’ rise last week, and this week the red-hot Heat are up to No.3 in our NBA Power Rankings.

Suns small icon 1. Suns (34-9, Last Week No. 2). One way to define contender is top 10 in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating, and by that measure there are a few teams in the mix (Bucks, Heat, Grizzlies, using Cleaning the Glass’ numbers). The corollary to that is a team in the top five on both ends is a title favorite, and right now only one team meets that mark — Phoenix. The Suns would love to see if they can pick up another rotation player at the trade deadline using Dario Saric‘s contract (he is out so far this season after tearing his ACL in the Finals), but there is no pressure to get a deal done. This team is deep and balanced and does not need anything except a little health luck to make another Finals run.

Grizzlies small icon 2. Grizzlies (31-15, LW 1). Ja Morant and the Showtime Grizzlies offense — they are the league’s most entertaining team — grab all the headlines, but the recent run of wins has been built on defense. In their last 15 games, they have the third-best defense in the league, which has fueled the 12-3 record. It has been a surprising turn because back in November the Grizzlies had the third worst defense in the league, but in January they have been 8.4 points per 100 possessions better. Jaren Jackson Jr. making a leap on that end as a paint protector has been at the heart of the improvement.

Heat small icon 3. Heat (28-16, LW 7). Bam Adebayo is back in the lineup, as is Jimmy Butler, and that should concern everyone else in the East because this team kept winning without those two and now add the All-Stars back into the mix. The downside is with Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon in the rotation, we may not see as much Omer Yurtseven. What came out of all the injuries and COVID with Miami is a stronger and deeper bench, making this team even more formidable come the playoffs because Erik Spoelstra will have options. The Heat have 5-of-6 coming up at home.

Warriors small icon 4. Warriors (31-12, LW 3). How can a team trail the Bucks by 39 at the half one night come back and be up 31 at the half on the Bulls the next night? That has been the inconsistent Warriors of late, and surprisingly the issue has been the offense — their 108.1 offensive rating the last 15 games is 25th in the league over that time (the defense was still top 10, but that will change with Draymond Green out a couple of weeks, at least). The good news is the Warriors have a chance to right the ship with seven in a row at home.

Jazz small icon 5. Jazz (29-15, LW 4). Talk of turbulence between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert always seems to surface when this team struggles, but it’s usually nothing that a few wins will not cure. The bigger issue in Utah may be the play of Jordan Clarkson, who sent from scoring 111.6 points per 100 shot attempts a season ago to 103.8 this season. Looked at another couple of ways, his 3-point shooting is down to 31.7%, he’s shooting under 40% overall, and his true shooting percentage of 51.4 is well below league average. Clarkson is a microwave scorer who doesn’t bring much defense or other elite skills to the table; if he’s not scoring much, it will be hard for Quin Snyder to keep playing him this many minutes (25.9 a game).

Sixers small icon 6. 76ers (25-18, LW 6). Philadelphia has won 9-of-11 and surged within a game of the No. 4 seed in the East and hosting a playoff round. The 76ers have the fourth-ranked offense and fifth-ranked defense in the league over that stretch, and Joel Embiid is playing like an MVP. However, Embiid’s biggest move of the past week may have been coming out and saying this team can win as is, trying to take pressure off GM Daryl Morey to pull off a Ben Simmons trade before the deadline. Morey still should — the East feels wide open this season in a way it may not in the future, don’t waste a year of Embiid’s prime — but Embiid tried to say it’s okay if Morey holds his cards a little longer.

Bucks small icon 7. Bucks (27-19, LW 8). The Bucks are 2-4 in their last six without Jrue Holiday, who is out with an ankle issue, and on the season they are 4-9 when he is out. For the season, the Bucks outscore opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions when Holiday is on the court but have a -4.6 net rating when he sits. Make no mistake, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the team’s best player — and my mid-season MVP pick — but Holiday is the most important and they need him back. Milwaukee has 6-of-7 at home.

Cavaliers small icon 8. Cavaliers (27-18, LW 11). It took a little while for Cleveland to find its footing again after Ricky Rubio went down, but the Cavs have won five in a row — including over the Jazz and Nets — and have been top 10 in the league in that stretch. Will the Cavaliers have an All-Star when the game comes to Cleveland next month? That falls in the hands of the East coaches, because no Cav is going to get the nod as an East starter but it’s possible Jarrett Allen could get the call as a reserve big man. Evan Mobley certainly will get a chance to play in the rookie/sophomore game.

Mavericks small icon 9. Mavericks (25-19, LW 10). Dallas has won 9-of-10. While it’s no coincidence that streak is tied to Luka Doncic’s return — in his last five games he is averaging 22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 8.8 assists a game — the more impressive thing during this stretch has been the Mavericks’ defense. The Mavericks have the best defense in the NBA over the last 10 games, giving up less than a point per possession in that stretch (98 defensive rating). Dallas made a change at backup center this week, waiving Willie Cauley-Stein and replacing him with Marquese Chriss.

Nets small icon 10. Nets (27-16, LW 9). When Kevin Durant is off the court, Brooklyn has essentially been a .500 team this season (+0.1 net rating). Now they have Kyrie Irving next to James Harden for road games, but when those two are on the court without Durant, the Nets have just a +1.8 net rating. The Nets will need more out of those lineups between now and the All-Star break because Durant is likely out until around that time with a knee sprain. The Cavaliers have 11 of their next 14 on the road, which means a lot of Irving and a lot of chances for Harden and Irving to show they can carry the team without KD.

Bulls small icon 11. Bulls (27-15, LW 5). It’s maybe too low to have the top-seeded team in the East outside the top 10, but they have dropped 4 in a row against quality opponents (including the Nets) and 5-of-6. The reason for the slump? Chicago has the worst defense in the NBA over those six games, with a 120.6 defensive rating. Part of the issue is they have been without Zach LaVine (knee), Lonzo Ball (knee), and Alex Caruso (health and safety) for some of those games, but this is concerning thinking ahead to playoff matchups and how teams can target weak links on the defensive end. There are players on the Bulls other teams are circling for those matchups.

Nuggets small icon 12. Nuggets (22-20, LW 12). Denver made a good second trade with Bol Bol (who is undergoing foot surgery), getting Bryn Forbes in the three-team deal. Forbes fills a glaring need for backcourt shooting around Nikola Jokic, and while Forbes’ role will shrink in the postseason (because he’s not a great defender) he is exactly what this team needs to make sure it secures a top six seed and avoids the play-in. Denver is 2-1 so far midway through its six-game homestand (before heading out on the road for six).

Hornets small icon 13. Hornets (24-20, LW 13). Oh, the inconsistency of youth: Charlotte beat Milwaukee in both games of a two-game set, then beat Philadelphia, only to take foot off the gas on offense and fall to the Magic. Charlotte heads into the trade deadline looking for more paint and rim protection, which is why their reported interest in Myles Turner makes sense. They need someone who can clean up others’ defensive mistakes and improve this 26th ranked defense.

Celtics small icon 14. Celtics (23-21, LW 16). Dennis Schroder is high on my “he’s definitely going to get traded” list, mostly because the Celtics will have a hard time bringing him back next season (they are limited in what they can offer, and another team will come in with more). Boston has won 5-of-6, the kind of stretch that gives fans hope they could climb out of the play-in spots and into the top six in the East if they keep it up. It’s just, so far this season “consistency” is not a word in the Boston dictionary.

Raptors small icon 15. Raptors (21-20, LW 14). Will Fred VanVleet make his first All-Star Game? It will be in the hands of the coaches picking the reserves, but he has been good enough this season, picking up the leadership baton from Kyle Lowry. VanVleet averages 21.9 points and 6.7 assists a game this season, while shooting 40.7% from 3. He makes my list of All-Star reserves, but it’s the East coaches who ultimately make that call. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have played better the past few weeks.

Wizards small icon 16. Wizards (23-21, LW 18). Midway through the season and Washington is still trying to figure out rotations that work. That hasn’t been easy because when Spencer Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal share the floor, the Wizards have a -4.1 net rating. Add in coach Wes Unseld Jr. looking for the right mix at center between the defensive Daniel Gafford, the offensive Thomas Bryant, and the ball of energy that is Montrezl Harrell, and things just feel unsettled and unfinished in Washington. But when it comes together, they look good.

17. Timberwolves (21-22, LW 19). Karl-Anthony Towns will be on the bubble for making the All-Star team as a reserve, but he’s earned it in my book averaging 24.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, and putting the Timberwolves on pace to make the play-in at least and likely the playoffs (they sit as the seven seed, at the top of the play-in, as of today). The biggest surprise so far has been the play of Jarred Vanderbilt, who has been a fantastic defender and role player for the team.

Lakers small icon 18. Lakers (22-22, LW 15). Frank Vogel is on the hot seat. Again. The question is not are the Lakers’ problems his fault — largely, no, this falls squarely on front office decisions (ones LeBron James and Anthony Davis pushed for in the case of Russell Westbrook) — the question is who are they going to bring in that’s better? There is no magical trade or easy fix for the Lakers, if they are going to make a second-half run it’s going to have to come from internal improvement and shooting. And just better defensive effort every night.

Knicks small icon 19. Knicks (22-22, LW 20). Good pickup getting Cam Reddish from Atlanta; once his ankle gets healthy he will bring solid defense on the wing, a little shooting, and add depth to what already has been a strong second unit led by Derrick Rose (when he’s healthy). The Knicks get a look at Reddish on the wing and can decide if they want to pay him going forward (he is extension eligible this summer, or New York can wait and let him go to restricted free agency in 2023). The Knicks’ schedule gets tougher starting next Monday, with 8-of-10 on the road.

Clippers small icon20. Clippers (22-23, LW 17). Paul George is out at least another two weeks, and Los Angeles is 5-8 without both George and Kawhi Leonard (who has not played all season as he recovers from a torn ACL). The Clippers are a respectable 16th in defense in those games, but they are 27th in offense. Nicolas Batum‘s return has helped on the offensive end (he had 32 the other day) but Los Angeles is going to need more out of Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris to keep their head above water through this stretch.

Blazers small icon 21. Trail Blazers (18-25, LW 23). There is some buzz around the league that interim general manager Joe Cronin could keep the job on a permanent basis, ownership did let him make some lower-level basketball operations hires. At the deadline, don’t just think of Portland as sellers, this is no fire sale, they are looking for a star player to ultimately pair with Damian Lillard and make a push with the face of the franchise (even if that is next season). One name to watch is Jerami Grant out of Detroit.

Hawks small icon 22. Hawks (18-25 LW 21). De'Andre Hunter is back in the rotation following his wrist injury, and it’s not a coincidence the Cam Reddish trade came along with Hunter’s return. That trade was a big bet on Hunter as the 3&D wing of the future in Atlanta, and he can bet that guy if he just stays healthy. If the Hawks are going to turn this season around and make a run, it needs to start during this stretch with 8-of-9 at home, and so far they are 1-1 in that homestand.

Pelicans small icon 23. Pelicans (16-28, LW 25). The Pelicans are 8-7 in their last 15 (and 15-15 in their last 30), in large part due to a starting lineup — Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, and Jonas Valanciunas — that has a +10 net rating. It’s a lineup that is not elite on offense or defense, but rather is just good on both ends. New Orleans still sits 2.5 games out of even the play-in because of that 1-12 start, but a Zion-less Pelicans in the postseason is far from out of the question.

Kings small icon 24. Kings (18-28, LW 26). Despite having a solid center in the paint in Rasual Butler — who is back from COVID protocols — the Kings give up the most points in the league, an average of 52.7 a game. That speaks heavily to perimeter defenders unable to stay in front of their man , with rookie Davion Mitchell maybe being the best at it. Despite their record and struggles, the Kings are 1.5 games out of the last play-in spot, to get it they need to keep their heads above water on the coming’s stretch of 6-of-7 on the road, and facing contenders like the Bucks and Warriors.

Pacers small icon 25. Pacers (15-29, LW 22). Myles Turner’s foot injury — they say he will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but the expectation around the league is he is out until after the All-Star break — puts a kink in plans to trade the center. There is still interest, but teams are going to be hesitant until they know more about this stress reaction (big men with foot injuries are red flags). That makes Caris LeVert the most likely Pacer to be traded before the deadline, although Sacramento and others are making a push for a Sabonis deal (the price for him would be much higher, the Kings are throwing in De'Aaron Fox, but does that interest the Pacers?

Spurs small icon 26. Spurs (16-28, LW 24). The wheels have come off the Spurs’ wagon the past few weeks, with the team going 2-10 in its last 12. While the 22nd ranked defense during that stretch isn’t good, the 28th ranked offense has been the bigger issue. On the bright side, Zach Collins is working in the G-League and appears close to healthy and a return to San Antonio, providing some scoring they could use (and a little defense in the paint.

Ro corckets small icon 27. Rockets (13-32, LW 29). Houston has fallen to the worst defense in the NBA on the season, a 114.6 defensive rating. If the question becomes is the the halfcourt defense or the transition defense that is the problem, the answer is yes. The Rockets are 26th in the league in halfcourt defense and 30th in transition defense. The issue has large been the bench defense, the current starting five — Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate and Christian Wood — have a 108.1 defensive rating, which would be 11th in the league as a team average.

Pistons small icon 28. Pistons (10-32, LW 27). Detroit is 5-5 in January despite having the worst net rating in the NBA over those 10 games, -10.5. When the Pistons lose lately, they lose big. No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham continues to find his footing, in his last five games he is averaging 16.8 points a game, shooting 44% from 3, plus 4.8 assists a night. His turnovers are still a little high (3.6 per game) and he’s still a work in progress, but the potential that made him a top pick is shining through.

Thunder small icon 29. Thunder (14-29, LW 28). You may not hear OKC’s name come up in a trade as a direct partner — although you can bet they are getting calls about Luguentz Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — but as the only team with significant cap space, you can be sure the Thunder will be involved in a trade. Everyone around the league knows the toll, it’s going to require a first-round pick, but OKC will take on your bad contract to make a trade work.

Magic small icon 30. Magic 8-37, LW 30). Orlando isn’t winning a lot of games, but they have proven to be surprisingly competitive against teams over .500, picking up six of their eight wins that way. Maybe it’s the big teams taking the little guys lightly, but credit the Magic for showing up and playing hard. Also, expect them to be involved in some trade talks, Terrence Ross and Gary Harris may not move the needle much but they can provide depth and quality play to a playoff-bound team. Starting Friday, the Magic have five in a row at home.

Bob Myers stepping down as Warriors president, GM

2022 Golden State Warriors Victory Parade & Rally
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The architect of the four-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the former agent turned two-time Executive of the Year Bob Myers is stepping away from the franchise.

This had been rumored all season and Myers confirmed it to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN prior to Myers’ formal press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s just time,” Myers told ESPN.

Warriors ownership wanted to keep Myers on board and reportedly made generous contract offers to retain him, but Myers just wanted to back away from the job.

Myers took over a Warriors franchise in 2012 that had already drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but was still being led on the court by Monta Ellis and David Lee. Myers drafted Draymond Green (in the second round), eventually traded for Andre Iguodala, built out the roster, fired Mark Jackson and replaced him with Steve Kerr, and generally built a championship team. When that team fell short in 2016 — and boosted by a one-time spike in the salary cap due to a new television deal — Myers brought in Kevin Durant to form one of the best, most dominant teams the NBA had seen, and they won two more titles. After Durant left and due to some brutal injuries, the Warriors stumbled for a few years, but in 2022 found their footing again and won a fourth ring. Myers helped guild all of that.

It is expected Mike Dunleavy Jr. — the No. 2 man in a Warriors front office that values a lot of input from different voices and isn’t classically hierarchical — will take over as the man in charge. Wojnarowski reports that Kirk Lacob, son of owner Joe Lacob, also is expected to have an expanded role.

This changeover comes at a critical time for the Warriors (and adds to the end-of-an-era feeling), heading into an important offseason for the franchise. Green is expected to opt out of his $27.5 million contract for next season and is looking for the security of more years — and this past season showed the Warriors cannot win at a high level without him. However, the Warriors will want him back at a lower figure than that $27.5 million per year. Klay Thompson is set to make $43.2 million next season and is extension eligible, but he is not a max player anymore and the Warriors will want those future years at a much lower price. Then there is Jordan Poole‘s extension kicking in — at $28.7 million — after a down season. The tension following Green punching Poole tainted the entire Warriors’ season, and there is a lot of speculation around the league Poole could be traded.

Myers built strong relationships with the Warriors’ players, and he would have been better positioned to talk to Green and Thompson about sacrifice to keep the team together. That is a tougher sell for Dunleavy.

Don’t expect Myers to jump straight into another NBA job — although offers will come to him fast — he is expected to take a year or more and step back from the game before deciding his next move.

Heat’s Tyler Herro reportedly targeting Game 3 return during Finals

2023 NBA Playoffs- New York Knicks v Miami Heat - Game Three
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyler Herro fractured his hand just before halftime of Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and following his ensuing surgery the target timeline was he could be back for the NBA Finals. That led to a lot of “good luck with that” comments on social media (not to mention comments about his sideline fits).

The No. 8 seed Miami Heat are on to the NBA Finals, and Herro hopes to return to the court when Miami returns home for Game 3, reports Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT.

Maybe he returns, perhaps that is optimistic (Game 3 is Wednesday, June 7). Herro is still feeling pain in his right hand, he told reporters after the game.

Herro averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game for the Heat this season, shooting 37.8% from 3. He was the team’s secondary shot creator after Jimmy Butler, a guy counted on to jumpstart the offense at points.

If he returns, Erik Spoelstra has to return him to the sixth-man role where he thrived a season ago. The starting lineup without him was better defensively, and with the emergence of Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent, the Heat don’t need the offensive spark with that first group (less Herro has meant more Jimmy Butler with the ball, and that’s a good thing). The second unit could use the offensive spark Herro brings.

It’s something to watch as the Heat return to the NBA Finals for the first time since the bubble, this time facing the formidable Denver Nuggets.

Three takeaways from Heat playing with intent, beating Celtics in Game 7


Is there a more Miami Heat way to win a series than going on the road and ripping the heart out of Boston fans in their own building in a Game 7?

Is there a more fitting way for this era of Celtics to lose this series than to play poorly until their backs are against the wall, then flip the switch and look like the best team in the NBA, only to not quite get all the way there?

In those ways the Eastern Conference Finals worked out the way it should have, with the Miami Heat taking charge of Game 7 in the first quarter and never looking back. The Heat beat the Celtics 103-84 to advance to the NBA Finals (which start Thursday in Denver).

Here are three takeaways from Game 7.

1) Caleb Martin embodied the difference in this series

Jimmy Butler was officially voted MVP of the Conference Finals. He averaged 24.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game through the series, numbers that are hard to argue. He is the best player on the team.

However, he won in a tight 5-4 vote over Caleb Martin — who had 26 points and 10 rebounds in Game 7, but more than that embodied the difference in this series. Martin played with intention, focus, and with a commitment to the system every night in a way the Celtics don’t do consistently. Martin, a guy waived by the Hornets in the summer of 2021, has had to scrap and fight for everything he’s gotten in the league, and with that comes a hardened edge.

“To the untrained eye, he just looks like he’s an undrafted guy who has been in the G League, who has started with Charlotte and now he’s here,” Butler said of Martin. “Started on a two-way contract. That’s what it looks like to y’all. To us, he’s a hell of a player, hell of a defender, playmaker, shotmaker, all of the above. Everybody [on the team] has seen Caleb work on those shots day in, day out. It doesn’t surprise us. We have seen it every single day. I’m so proud and happy for him.”

Martin’s shotmaking also embodied why the Heat won — they were simply better at getting and hitting the shots they wanted all series long. It was historic shotmaking.

Bam Adebayo had another rough offensive outing — 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting with a lot of good looks missed — but his defense was stellar and that was reflected in his +22 on the night, the best of any starter on the team. He remains vital to what they do.

2) Jayson Tatum‘s rolled ankle proved too much for Celtics

The Celtics didn’t lose this series because Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle on the game’s first play.

They lost this series because when they went down 0-3 in the series they left themselves no margin for error — everything had to go perfectly. It never does, just ask the other 150 teams in NBA history to go down 0-3 in a series. Tatum went on to score 14 points, but he admitted he was a shell of himself.

The Celtics needed to collectively make up for Tatum being slowed (much the way the Heat’s role players such as Gabe Vincent stepped up with Tyler Herro out).

Jaylen Brown didn’t, he ended up shooting 8-of-23 for 19 points, but with eight turnovers. Derrick White had 18 and was the best Celtic in Game 7. Malcolm Brogdon tried but could not play through an elbow injury he may need off-season surgery on (and coach Joe Mazzulla stuck with him a little too long).

The bigger problem was Boston was 9-of-42 (21.4%) on 3-pointers. Miami leaned into their zone defense (which allowed them to keep Duncan Robinson on the floor) and while the Celtics did a better job of getting into the middle of that zone, but they still needed to knock down shots over the top of it. They failed.

When the Celtics’ shots aren’t falling it bleeds into the other aspects of their game — the defensive lapses come, the mental focus goes in and out. Consistency is not a hallmark of these Celtics.

We’ll get into Boston’s future in the next couple of days, they should and will re-sign Jaylen Brown and make another run, but this core needs to look at itself in the mirror and figure out why it can’t play closer to its peak nightly.

3) The Heat are the life lesson you want to teach

As a parent, there are a lot of life lessons you try to pass on to your children, although you eventually realize that it’s more about what you show them day-to-day than what you say in any moment that really resonates.

One thing I want to show my daughters, what I want for them is to be resilient like this Miami team — a group that took a punch to the gut in Game 6, stumbled, got up off the ground, shook off the dust, and came back with more resolve and focus.

“I think probably people can relate to this team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after his team advanced. “Life is hard. Professional sports is just kind of a reflection sometimes of life, that things don’t always go your way. The inevitable setbacks happen and it’s how you deal with that collectively. There’s a lot of different ways that it can go. It can sap your spirit. It can take a team down for whatever reason. With this group, it’s steeled us and made us closer and made us tougher.

“These are lessons that hopefully we can pass along to our children, that you can develop this fortitude. And sometimes you have to suffer for the things that you want. Game 6, the only thing that we can do is sometimes you have to laugh at the things that make you cry…

“We have some incredible competitors in that locker room. They love the challenge. They love putting themselves out there in front of everybody. Open to criticism. Open to everything. But to compete for it, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

They did compete harder than the team in Green across from them, and that’s why Miami tips off in the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

Martin, Butler spark Heat to resilient Game 7 win on road, beat Celtics to advance to Finals


This is what resilience looks like. What heart looks like.

Miami had to fight through the play-in, coming back late against the Bulls to earn the No. 8 seed. Then they beat the feared Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Then they beat the feisty New York Knicks. All that to get the most talented team in the NBA on paper, the Boston Celtics.

Miami raced out to a 3-0 series lead, then watched the Celtics climb back in — taking a punch to the gut with Derrick White’s putback to win Game 6 and force a Game 7. Most teams would have rolled over after that loss.

Miami came out hungry in Game 7, punched the Celtics in the mouth in the first quarter, pulled away in the second to a double-digit lead, and never let Boston all the way back, eventually taking their hearts and the game, 103-84.

The Miami Heat advance to the NBA Finals, flying directly after this game to Denver where they will face Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets starting Thursday night.

Caleb Martin was the MVP of this game — 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, plus 10 rebounds — and was the Heat’s best player all series long.

However, the voters gave the Eastern Conference Finals MVP award to Jimmy Butler, who scored 28 in this game and bounced back after a couple of rough outings.

For Boston, the game may have turned on the team’s first possession when Jayson Tatum turned his ankle, landing on Gabe Vincent after a jumper. He stayed in the game and finished with 14 points, but he never moved the same and was not the threat the Celtics needed as a shot creator with the ball in his hands. Postgame Tatum admitted it impacted his play.

With Tatum injured, the Celtics ran a lot of their offense through Derrick White and he responded with 18 points.

With Tatum down, the Celtics also needed more Jaylen Brown, who scored 19 points but on 8-of-23 shooting with eight turnovers. It was not nearly enough.

Both teams were tight to start the game (as is often the case in Game 7s) and it showed mostly with the Celtics shooting 0-of-10 from 3. Miami started slow but did a better job settling into their offense and led 22-15 after one quarter. Their hot streak extended to a 25-7 run into early in the second.

The Heat stretched the lead up to as much as 17 and led by 11 at the half thanks to 14 from Caleb Martin and 11 from Jimmy Butler in the first 24. The Celtics were lucky to be that close shooting 4-of-21 from 3 and Jayson Tatum only scoring seven points. What kept Boston close was the seven offensive rebounds.

Miami made a push in the third quarter, had momentum for stretches with White hitting shots and making plays, but they couldn’t get stops and entering the fourth they were still down 10.

Then the Heat started the fourth on a 7-0 run, which was the ballgame.