In the Orlando bubble playoffs in 2020, the Heat won in six games, taking advantage of the neutral court setting to advance. Last spring, the Celtics led 3-2 before dropping Game 6 at home, forcing them to clinch in Miami to earn their Finals shot against Golden State.
For the permanent record, then, this is the rubber match. But don’t assume the storylines from a year ago necessarily will apply now, Boston’s Jaylen Brown said Sunday.
“Nothing about last year matters,” Brown said after Boston’s blowout of Philadelphia at TD Garden. “I don’t think Miami is thinking about last year. I think they’re coming out and ready to play basketball. If anything, atone for last year. So we’ve just got to come out with a great fresh mind and execute.”
The Celtics have been considered favorites in the East for most of the postseason (once the Heat eliminated No. 1 seed Milwaukee), but needed 13 games to reach this point. Miami is rolling on house money, only the second No. 8 seed to reach the conference finals round (New York got there en route to the 1999 Finals).
“It is really freaking hard to get to the Eastern Conference finals,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, after his team dumped the Knicks in six games on Friday. “We’ve had our normal, big, audacious goals for this season, but when you get to one step like this, there’s great gratitude because there’s a lot of teams that would love to be in this position.”