Boston’s 100-96 NBA finals clinching win against Miami involved a head-scratching moment when the Heat controversially had a three-pointer overturned before losing the game.
After trailing by as much as 16 late in the second quarter, Miami stormed back and turned what was looking to be a blowout win for the Celtics, into an arm wrestle.
A corner three-pointer to Max Strus cut Miami’s deficit to two points – 56-54 – early in the third quarter before a shock twist occurred.
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Miami thought it had gotten to within one shot when Strus rattled that three, but the Celtics responded with a 9-1 run, which was made even worse when the NBA replay center in New Jersey decided that Strus had stepped out of bounds.
Strus’ three came off the board while the game was going, and a 56-54 game became 65-52 three minutes after the basket was initially counted.
But what left fans scratching their heads was the decision to wipe that shot nearly three minutes after it was counted.
While NBA referees will often use stoppages and time outs to review whether shots are worth two or three points depending on if a player’s foot is on the line, or if a player gets the shot off before the shot clock expires, neither of those scenarios needed to be looked at in this situation.
The review over whether Strus stepped out of bounds, and the taking away of points nearly three minutes later, is almost unheard of in the NBA which left fans asking questions.
But questions were also raised over whether Strus’ foot was actually on the line with replays making a case for both sides.
Polarizing US media icon Skip Bayless, who boasts more than three million Twitter followers, was among several big names to raise questions about that decision, and whether it might’ve affected the final result.
Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum scored 26 points, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart each added 24 and the Boston Celtics held off a frantic rally in the final seconds to beat the Heat in finals for the first time since 2010.
Al Horford added 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who never trailed on the way to pulling off a game seven win on the road — and not including the bubble, that was the first such victory for the storied franchise since beating Milwaukee for the 1974 NBA title .
Next up for Boston: the Golden State Warriors in a series that starts Friday morning (AEST) in San Francisco.
Jimmy Butler, who willed Miami into game seven by scoring 47 points in Boston, led the Heat with 35 points in what became their season finale. Bam Adebayo added 25 for the Heat, who were down 11 with under three minutes to go before trying one last rally.
A 9-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Strus with 51 seconds left, got the Heat within 98-96.
They had a chance for the lead with about 17 seconds to go when Butler tried a three-pointer from the right wing, but it missed — and the Celtics escaped.
Boston forced the Heat into nine consecutive misses during a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter, using that stretch to turn an 82-79 lead into a 90-79 edge — and the Celtics, who had lost each of their last four trips to the East finals, found a way to hold on.
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