Heat on verge of sweep

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

The Miami Heat joined the Denver Nuggets in turning the NBA’s conference finals into a rout.

Gabe Vincent scored a career-high 29 points and the Heat didn’t need a heroic performance from Jimmy Butler to easily beat the Boston Celtics 128-102 on Sunday night for a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Miami can become the second No. 8 to reach the NBA Finals with a victory in Game 4 at home on Tuesday. The No. 1 seed Nuggets can reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history with a victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 on Monday night.

Butler, who was been sensational throughout the playoffs, had 16 points in Game 3 when Miami’s bench led the way. Duncan Robinson scored 22 and Caleb Martin added 18 for the Heat.

“That was a solid, mature, professional approach,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s a lot of pent-up stuff here and we’re getting closer, but we still have to finish this off.”

No NBA team has ever come back to win a series it trailed 3-0. The Celtics and Lakers are both aiming to be the first.

“I just didn’t have them ready to play,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Whatever it was, whether it was the starting lineup or an adjustment, I have to get them in a better place, ready to play. That’s on me.”

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 14 and Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard each added 12. The second-seeded Celtics beat Miami three times on the road in the East finals last year. They need to get one win just to prolong their season.

“To their credit, they’re playing well above their means,” Brown said. “They’re ballin’ right now and I’ve got to give them respect. Gabe Vincent, Martin, (Max) Strus, Duncan Robinson, guys that we should be able to keep under control are playing (well).”

The Heat realize the series isn’t finished despite long odds.

“It’s the first to four games,” Vincent said. “We’re not satisfied with three.”