It started off with 16 and now it is down to four. The conference finals are set and from the looks of what happened so far in the playoffs, it should be entertaining. In the east, the Boston Celtics will take on the top-seeded Miami Heat. The Dallas Mavericks will take on the Golden State Warriors in the west.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
These teams met in the 2020 conference finals where the Heat won to advance to the Finals. The Heat are trying to do the same thing this time around while the Celtics are looking to advance to their first Finals since 2010.
The series tipped off Tuesday down in Miami where the Heat was able to come out with a win 118-107. In the first half, it was all about the Celtics. Jayson Tatum scored 21 points in the first half and did not do much in the second half. He went 10 for 21 from the field and 2 for 9 from three, but Tatum’s biggest problem was his turnovers he had seven of them. That will not get the job done especially since he is the team’s star.
Jaylen Brown chipped in with 24 points, Robert Williams III had 18 points and nine rebounds and Payton Pritchard came off the bench and put up 18 points.
The Celtics were without two key players in Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (health and safety protocols). Smart is trending towards playing in Game 2 but Horford is doubtful to play. Getting Smart back is big for them who can defend the perimeter and someone who hits timely shots when the team needs it.
The Heat trailed by as many as 13 and were down by eight at halftime. In the third, the momentum shifted and changed the whole game. The Heat went on a 22-2 run and had three consecutive steals one by Max Strus and two by Jimmy Butler. Butler scored 27 of 41 points in the second half and scored 17 alone in the third. He outscored the Celtics by himself who had 14 points as a whole. Boston shot 2 for 15 in the quarter. They also had 12 blocks tying a franchise record.
Boston bounced back with a 10-0 run in the fourth but the Heat answered back and put the game away. That big third quarter by the Heat was what got them the win. Butler and the rest of the team imposed their will on the defensive end and turned it into offense.
Game 2 will be Thursday.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Golden State Warriors
After a surprising seven-game series upsetting the number one overall team in the league the Mavericks faceoff against the battle-tested Warriors.
Wednesday night was Game 1 of the series and the Warriors were no match for the Mavericks winning 112-87. Steph Curry had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. They made sure Luka Doncic did not go off as he did against the Suns in the last series.
Doncic had 20 points but shot 6 for 18 and shot 3 for 10 from three. He hit back-to-back 3’s to cut down the deficit at halftime to 54-45. Jalen Brunson had 14 points but he missed all five of this 3’s.
Andrew Wiggins did a great job at making Doncic work on both ends of the court. On defense, he picked up Doncic full court and on offense he was aggressive scoring 17 points. Slowing down Doncic was the plan for the Warriors make him work and have everyone else try to beat them. Stopping Doncic is no easy task, he is averaging 31.5 points in the playoffs this year.
In the second half, Curry and Klay Thompson slowed down and started hitting their shots. From then on they hit their stride and left the Mavericks in the dust.
Wiggins was the star of the game for his efforts in guarding Doncic and also putting up 17 points. Game 2 will be Friday. The other guys on the Mavs will have to step up and help Doncic if they want to make this a series or else the Warriors will walk right back into the Finals.