BOSTON — The Celtics were in a prime position to beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night and reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Derrick White’s 3-pointer gave the Celtics a 97-94 lead with 4:43 remaining. The TD Garden crowd was loud and on its feet as the Heat called a full timeout. It seemed like the Celtics, after trailing for most of the night, were finally going to pull away and celebrate a conference title.
The stage was set for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to close the deal and finally break through to the championship round.
Instead, the Heat finished the game on a 17-6 run to secure a 111-103 win and stave off elimination. Heat star Jimmy Butler led the way, scoring seven of his 47 points — the second-most ever by a player facing elimination — over the final two minutes.
Perhaps most frustrating part of that stretch for the Celtics was the lack of aggressiveness offensively from their two stars.
Butler gives C’s bulletin-board material ahead of Game 7
Tatum and Brown combined for only one shot attempt over the final 4:43 of the game — a Tatum floater that cut Miami’s lead to 105-101 with 1:08 remaining. Brown missed two crucial free throws with the score tied 99-99. Tatum turned the ball over with the Celtics trailing 102-99 and 1:48 left on…