The 2022 Eastern Conference Finals will end with Game 7 on Sunday night as the Heat host the Celtics for a spot in the NBA Finals against the Warriors. Tipoff in Miami is at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Miami forced a Game 7 by winning in Boston on Friday night, 111-103. Jimmy Butler dug deep and had a game-high 47 points to force a decisive final game in this series.
What: Eastern Conference Finals Game 7.
Who: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat. Series tied, 3-3.
When: Sunday, May 29, 2022.
Time: 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Where: FTX Arena, Miami (21,000).
Latest line: Celtics -3.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Lisa Salters.
Read some of what Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press wrote in his preview of Sunday night’s Game 7.
Erik Spoelstra didn’t even have to finish the sentence. The Miami Heat coach was speaking in the locker room after a season-extending win in Boston, players and staff standing around him in a semicircle.
“There’s no two better words,” Spoelstra said.
“Game 7,” about a half-dozen people responded, in unison.
Game 7, for a berth in the NBA Finals. Either the Heat or the Boston Celtics will become Eastern Conference champions on Sunday night, when they’ll finally finish their series and see which club will face the Golden State Warriors in the title round.
It’ll be the second Game 7 between the teams; the other was in 2012, when the Heat topped the Celtics 101-88 to win that year’s East title.
“Look, we’re here,” Spoelstra said after Miami fended off elimination with a 111-103 win in Boston on Friday night, behind a 47-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist, four-steal effort from Jimmy Butler. “This is the way it should be with these two teams. It should have gone seven games.”
Miami has the home-court advantage for the finale, though home court has meant nothing in this series. The Heat went 2-1 in Boston, the Celtics have gone 2-1 in Miami so far with the two wins coming by a combined 38 points and Boston’s 6-2 road record is the best of any teams in this season’s playoffs.
And that has the Celtics brimming with confidence, even though road teams are 34-110 all-time — a winning percentage of .236 — in Game 7s.
“Scale of 1 to 10? Ten. I mean, it shouldn’t be any less than that, right?” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said when asked how certain he is that Boston can win the series on Miami’s floor. “You know, it’s the last game. That’s what it’s all about.”
Injuries have been one of the major storylines of the series, and that remains the case Sunday.
Butler has been dealing with knee issues and twisted an ankle late in Game 6 though still came through with arguably the best game of his career. Kyle Lowry and Max Strus — who had big bounce-backs Friday after posting a combined zero points in Game 5 — still have hamstring concerns. For Boston, Marcus Smart’s ankle has been balky, Robert Williams III’s knee is an ongoing question and Jaylen Brown banged a knee on a drive in Game 5 though finished the game with no obvious ill effects.
“This time of year, there’s nobody 100% healthy, both sides,” Miami’s P.J. Tucker said. “I’m sure they got a bunch of guys, too, just trying to figure it out and give what they can. Try to win. That’s it. You can’t get these days back. It’s living in the moment, trying to just do what you can.”