2023 NBA Playoffs

Game 6 takeaways: White's heroics save Celtics in crazy win over Heat

The Celtics are somehow still alive... We share our takeaways from Boston's roller-coaster Game 6 victory.

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The Boston Celtics were on their way to an epic collapse. Thanks to Derrick White, they're 48 minutes away from history.

White's tip-in of a missed Marcus Smart 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds on the clock gave the Celtics an improbable 104-103 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

Boston had a 10-point lead with under five minutes remaining before Miami stormed back to go up by one with three seconds to go. But instead of their season ending in disaster, the Celtics became just the fourth team in NBA history to get to a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in a playoff series.

They can become the first NBA team ever to win a series after trailing 3-0 if they can beat the Heat at TD Garden on Monday night.

Before we look ahead to Game 7, however, let's make sense of an insane night at Kaseya Center.

Riding the roller coaster

The Celtics know how to put their fans through the emotional ringer.

Game 6 was a game of runs, especially in the fourth quarter, when Boston ripped off a 16-5 run to take a 10-point lead and seemingly put the game away.

As they've done several times this season, however, the Celtics let go of the rope in the closing minutes. Their offense stalled, and they committed multiple fouls on Jimmy Butler down the stretch to allow Miami to climb back into the game.

Then, chaos ensued.

Al Horford fouled Butler on an outside shot with just three seconds remaining and the Celtics up by two, but after Boston challenged the foul call, the officials determined Butler was shooting a 3-pointer and awarded him three free throws. Butler calmly drilled all three to transform a two-point Heat deficit into a one-point lead.

It was a familiar horror movie for Celtics fans, especially as Smart launched an off-balance 3-point attempt on Boston's last possession. But White swooped in to save the day, saving the C's from a lot of second-guessing had they lost.

Familiar faces carry the load for Celtics

Leave it the core of Jayson TatumJaylen Brown and Smart to step up in an elimination game on the road.

Tatum (31 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks) and Brown (26 points, 10 rebounds, two steals) both stuffed the stat sheet for Boston, while Smart (21 points) gave the C's a huge boost with his second 20-point game.

The Tatum-Brown-Smart trio played complementary basketball in this one: Tatum was scorching in the first half with 25 points on 7 of 13 shooting, but failed to score in the third quarter. That's when Brown and Smart picked up the slack, combining for 16 of Boston's 22 points in the period to keep the C's afloat.

Tatum, Brown and Smart all chipped in during the fourth quarter, combining with White (eight points) to score all of the Celtics' 25 points in the final 12 minutes.

Boston needed its best players to step up with Malcolm Brogdon sidelined due to injury, and they did just enough to escape Miami with the victory.

A first-of-its kind victory for Celtics

The 3-point shot has been the biggest barometer of the Celtics' success all season, but Saturday was the rare anomaly.

Boston escaped with a victory despite making just 7 of 35 3-pointers (20 percent), marking the first time this entire postseason the team has won while making 12 or fewer threes. The C's were previously 0-6 when they hit 12 or fewer threes and 10-2 when they made 13 or more.

Meanwhile, Miami thrived from beyond the arc, hitting double the amount of 3-pointers (14 for 30) to score 21 more points than Boston on threes.

So, how did the Celtics escape with the victory? You can thank their interior defense, which held the Heat to an atrocious 30.2 percent rate on 2-point shots.

Miami's 30.2 percent clip was the second-worst 2-point percentage of any team this season (regular season or playoffs), and the Heat became just the second team in the last nine years to have such a disparity between their twos and threes.

The Celtics were very lucky to leave Kaseya Center with a win, and they'll need their 3-pointers to drop Monday night if they want to make history at TD Garden.

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Game 7 begins at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

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