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NBA Eastern Conference Finals: 4 storylines for Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

Vincent Frank

The 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Finals is now set following the Boston Celtics’ blowout Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston will take on the top-seeded Miami Heat starting Tuesday at 8:30 PM EST. After every thing that we have seen thus far in the playoffs, it’s the top two seeds going up against one another. Before we preview the Eastern Conference Finals with some major storylines, let’s check in on the schedule.

Related: Top Takeaways from Boston Celtics Game 7 win over Milwaukee Bucks

Eastern Conference Finals schedule

GameDateHomeAwayTime (EST)TV Info
1Tuesday, May 17Miami HeatBoston Celtics8:30 PMESPN
2Thursday, May 19Miami HeatBoston Celtics8:30 PMTBD
3Saturday, May 21Boston CelticsMiami Heat8:30 PMTBD
4Monday, May 23Boston CelticsMiami Heat8:30 PMABC
5Wednesday, May 25*Miami HeatBoston Celtics8:30 PMTBD
6Friday, May 27*Boston CelticsMiami Heat8:30 PMTBD
7Sunday, May 29*Miami HeatBoston Celtics5:30 PMESPN
* If necessary

How the Miami Heat got to the Eastern Conference Finals

eastern conference finals: miami heat
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
  • First round: Defeated Atlanta Hawks 4-1
  • Second round: Defeated Philadelphia 76ers 4-2

Miami had an easy go of it against the overmatched Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Relying on stingy defense and the tremendous all-around play of Jimmy Butler, the Heat outscored Atlanta by 60 points in the five-game set.

The Heat then took out Philadelphia in six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After seeing Philadelphia tie the series at two with consecutive wins, the Heat’s defense clamped down big time. Erik Spoelstra’s squad outscored the 76ers by 44 points in the final two games.

Related: 2022 NBA Playoff schedule

How the Boston Celtics got to the Eastern Conference Finals

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
  • First round: Defeated Brooklyn Nets 4-0
  • Second round: Defeated Milwaukee Bucks 4-3

Even with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the mix, Brooklyn proved to be no match for a red-hot Celtics squad in Round 1. Coming off a conclusion to the regular season that saw them win 25 of 30, the Celtics won these four games by a combined 18 points.

After falling down 3-2 with a home loss in Game 5 against the defending champion Bucks, Boston was able to win the final two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals by a combined 43 points.

Top storylines for the Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Finals

Without further ado, let’s check in on the top-four storylines for this Eastern Conference Finals matchup. It promises to be an epic series between two teams that proved that they belong standing with a chance to earn the NBA title.

Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry doubtful for Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

miami heat, eastern conference finals
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Dealing with a hamstring injury that cost him four of the six Eastern Conference Semifinals games, Lowry did not practice ahead of the opener on Tuesday. The All-Star guard and NBA champion is considered doubtful to go for Game 1.

“Heat point guard Kyle Lowry – who missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals and six games overall this postseason because of a hamstring injury – did not practice on Sunday, leaving his status for the start of the next round very much in doubt.”

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on Kyle Lowry’s status for Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

Lowry, 36, originally suffered the hamstring injury in Game 3 of the first round against Atlanta. He returned to score six points in 56 minutes of action in two games last round.

Miami is 6-0 in the games that Lowry has missed during the postseason. Gabe Vincent has started all six games in his stead. Lowry’s absence is big from an experience perspective. But Vincent has joined the likes of Max Strus and former All-Star Victor Oladipo in upping their games in his stead.

Related: 2022 NBA Playoff predictions

Grant Williams as an X-factor for the Boston Celtics

boston celtics eastern conference finals
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

As inconsistent as they get, Williams showed out big time in Boston’s Game 7 win over the Bucks. The former first-round pick from Tennessee attempted 18 shots from beyond the three-point line, hitting on seven of them. He scored 27 points and finished plus-26 in 39 minutes of action.

This came after Williams scored all of two points while missing each of his six three-point attempts in the previous two games. For Williams, it’s all about showing that he belongs. Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka touched on that after the team’s Game 7 win.

“They’re disrespecting you more tonight than earlier in the series. I basically said shoot the ball and what else can you do?”

Boston Celtics’ Ime Udoka on what he said to Grant Williams during Game 7

Boston simply needs Williams to be more consistent moving forward. That’s especially true when it comes to going up against a defensive-minded Heat team led by Jimmy Butler.

Related: Jimmy Butler and NBA’s top-50 players of 2022

Boston Celtics need to find a way to match up with Jimmy Butler

NBA: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Buckets has been absolutely brilliant on both ends of the court thus far in the playoffs. The Miami Heat star is averaging 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.1 steals on 53% shooting. He’s also surprisingly expanded his game to the three-point line (36%).

For Udoka and Co., it’s going to be all about throwing bodies in Butler’s direction. Reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart should get the call early an often. After finishing the regular season with a team-best 4.6 defensive win shares, we also expect Jayson Tatum to see action.

At issue here for Boston is the fact that it will need Tatum to expend most of his energy on scoring. He struggled big time in three regular-season games against the Heat.

Regardless of what Boston does against Butler on the defensive end, it will need Tatum to up his performance on offense. Whether that means throwing other bodies in the direction of the Heat star to save some of Tatum’s energy remains to be seen.

Miami Heat need Tyler Herro in Eastern Conference Finals

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Sixth Man of the Year and Miami’s second-leading scorer behind the aforementioned Butler, Herro has not lived up to expectations thus far in the playoffs. He’s scored just 20-plus in two of 11 games. He also hasn’t necessarily been too aggressive from distance recently, attempting a total of four three-point shots in the final two games of the 76ers series.

  • Tyler Herro stats (2022 NBA Playoffs): 13.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 42% shooting, 27% 3-point

Herro, 22, averaged 20.7 points while shooting 40% from distance during the regular season. He simply needs to play better if the Miami Heat are going to head to their second NBA Finals in three seasons.