Boston Celtics

Spoelstra credits ‘mature' Celtics team, sensed they wanted to end series

Erik Spoelstra can see a change in this Celtics team since last May.

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The Boston Celtics will move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals after beating the Miami Heat 118-84 on Wednesday night to close out the series in five games, completing their revenge against the team that beat them in the Eastern Conference finals just a year ago.

Within the last 12 months, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has noticed a difference in the Celtics -- something he felt the need to point out following his team's series-ending blowout loss in Game 5.

"You have to credit Boston," Spoelstra told reporters in his postgame press conference. "They took control of this game. You could sense that they wanted this to end right now, tonight, and not let this thing get back to Miami. That's the sign of a mature team."

Last May, the No. 2 seed Celtics took on the No. 8 seed Heat in a series that many predicted would be short in Boston's favor, but they couldn't have been more wrong. The Celtics let the Heat take an early 3-0 series lead, and although the C's managed to claw their way back to force a Game 7, they ultimately fell short.

Spoelstra's comments on the Celtics' maturity should give confidence to Boston's squad and its fans moving forward -- this is not the same team they were a year ago. The Celtics have learned from their past mistakes and have all come together as a group, sacrificing individual accolades to put the goal of winning a championship at the forefront.

After the Heat's impressive Game 2 win to even the series, when Miami hit a playoff franchise record 23 3-pointers on a 53.5 percent clip, the Celtics adjusted. The Heat didn't hit that many 3s for the rest of the series, making just 21 3-pointers on a 23.2 percent clip over the final three games.

"We're not going to put this on the fact that we've had some injuries," Spoelstra said after Game 5. "Let's not take anything away from Boston. They've been the best team in basketball all season long, and in this series in four of the games. They played as such."

With business now taken care of in Miami, the Celtics will have some well-deserved rest as they wait for their next matchup to be determined. Boston's second-round opponent will be the winner of the Cavaliers-Magic series.

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