NBA players react to Miami Heat beating Boston Celtics to advance to 2023 NBA Finals

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Few people expected the Miami Heat to win Monday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics in Massachusetts, let alone by a wide margin.

But that’s exactly what they did, and many across the NBA landscape are extremely impressed with the team’s 103-84 victory.

After winning the first three games of this series despite being sizable underdogs, the Heat were expected to wrap it up without any real difficulty. Instead, it dropped the next two games by double digits, then lost Game 6 in gut-wrenching fashion when Derrick White scored on a putback just before the horn for a 104-103 decision.

The feeling coming into Monday was that the Celtics had the wind at their backs and all the momentum and emotion in their favor. Game 7 was played in their home arena, and throughout their storied history, they have almost always emerged victorious in Game 7s at home thanks to the luck of the Irish.

But Miami came out and established a lead in the first quarter as the Celtics surprisingly went cold from the field. Its lead went up to 11 at halftime, and even though there were a few times when it seemed the Celtics were starting to put together a rally, they were never able to get that close.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Heat’s advantage increased to 15, then to 20, and TD Garden, which was jacked at the start of the game, started to feel more like a funeral home.

Jimmy Butler led them in scoring with 28 points, but their biggest hero was the undrafted Caleb Martin, who made 11-of-16 shots to score 26 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds.

The Heat will now move on to the NBA Finals to face the Denver Nuggets, who have been resting for the last several days after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. They will be at a disadvantage going up against two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, especially given how small their frontcourt is, but there one thing is for sure: They will continue to fight for their lives until the very end, win or lose.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.