The Nuggets did their part, narrowly beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 to advance to their first NBA Finals.
The Heat ran into a determined Celtics team in Game 4, who didn’t want to be embarrassed like they did in Game 3. Boston won Game 4 and brought the series back home. The Celtics found a way to win Game 5 and push the series back to Miami, where the Heat hadn’t lost all playoffs before Game 4.
In the waning seconds of the game, with the Heat up a point, the Celtics saw their season extended after Derrick White’s follow-thru on a missed three from Marcus Smart found the bottom of the net as time expired.
With the win, the Celtics became the first team to extend a playoff series to Game 7 after being down 0-3 for the first time in 20 years. The last team who did it? The 2002-03 Portland Trail Blazers.
The 2003 playoffs were the first time the first round series adopted the current best-of-seven format since 1974, and the Blazers proved why that was changed in their first round. After losing the first three games to the Dallas Mavericks, the Blazers were on the brink of elimination.
But then, the Blazers defended home court in Game 4, came back in the fourth quarter to win Game 5, and cruised to victory in Game 6 to force a decisive Game 7 in Dallas. Despite holding a lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the gas had run out of the Blazers’ tank and the Mavs won the game and series.
The Celtics face a different path because tonight, they are playing in front of their fans for a chance to return to the NBA Finals. Boston hosted a Game 7 in the previous series against the Philadelphia 76ers and the homecourt advantage proved to be a huge factor in the win (along with Jayson Tatum’s 51-point performance).
However, the Celtics need to do what the Blazers couldn’t and finish the job. If they do, they’ll be in the history books forever.