NBA: Celtics, Heat go for history in Game 7
MANILA, Philippines—The 2023 NBA Eastern Conference Finals marks the 151st time in league history that a team has trailed 0-3 in a best-of-seven series.
No team has ever come back from a 0-3 hole to win a playoff series.
This is only the fourth time that a team—down 0-3—has forced a Game 7. The last team to do so prior to the Celtics were the Portland Trail Blazers against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2003 Western Conference first round.
The Celtics, however, are the first to host a Game 7. The Heat, on the other hand, are aiming to become just the second eighth seed to make the NBA Finals after the New York Knicks in 1999.
The Celtics and Heat will meet in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row.
Game 7 of the East Finals will be played on May 29 for the second year in a row. Before last year, there had never been a Game 7 played on this day.
It marks the first time that the same teams will meet in Game 7 of a Conference Finals series in back-to-back years since the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers in 1981 and 1982 also in the East Finals.
It is also the first time that the same teams will meet in Game 7 of any playoff round in back-to-back years since 1994-1995 when the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns played a Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals in both 1994 and 1995. The Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks also went seven games in the East Finals in 1994 and the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1995.
Showing great resolve, the Celtics have won five knockout games in the 2023 playoffs.
If the Celtics win Game 7, they would match the NBA record for most victories when facing elimination in a single postseason.
The 1994 Nuggets and the 2020 Nuggets currently share the record with six.
The Celtics have a record of 27-9 (.750) in Game 7s. They are 22-5 at home and 5-4 on the road.
The Celtics will be playing their 37th Game 7, by far the most in NBA history. After Tuesday’s game, Boston will have played in exactly 25% of all NBA Game 7s (37 of 148).
The Heat have a record of 6-5 (.545) in Game 7s. Miami is 6-3 at home and 0-2 on the road.
Game 7 records
In Game 7 of the 2023 East semis, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum set a Game 7 scoring record with 51 points against the 76ers.
The record has been broken in each of the two previous Game 7s in the 2023 postseason in just a two-week span.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored 50 points against the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round on April 30.
The previous record entering this postseason was 48 points by Kevin Durant for the Brooklyn Nets against the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 East semis.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has a 4-3 record in Game 7s. He is set to serve as a head coach in a Game 7 for the eighth time, which will tie him for the fifth most in NBA history (along with Red Auerbach and K.C. Jones).
The only head coaches with more Game 7s coached than Spoelstra are Doc Rivers (16), current Heat President Pat Riley (11), Larry Brown (10) and Phil Jackson (9).
Repeat or redemption
The Celtics held on to beat the Heat, 100-96, in Miami in Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
In that game, Boston led by 13 points with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Miami rallied within two in the final minute only to fall short on its comeback bid after Jimmy Butler missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 16.6 seconds remaining. Butler had 35 points in that game.
The Celtics and Heat have played 13 games in the Eastern Conference Finals over the last two seasons. The road team has a 9-4 record in those games.
The Celtics and Heat will play a Game 7 in the East Finals for the third time: 2023, 2022 and 2012.
In 2012, the Heat defeated the Celtics, 101-88, in Miami. The Heat went on to win the first of its two consecutive NBA championships.
Celtics big man Al Horford is set to play in his 10th career Game 7.
Only Ray Allen (11), Paul Pierce (10) and Bill Russell (10) have appeared in more Game 7s.
Horford has a 7-2 record in Game 7s. If he plays in a Celtics victory on Tuesday, Horford would become the third player to win eight or more Game 7s, joining Russell (10) and Sam Jones (9).