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Heat holds 2-1 East finals lead, but has issues to fix: 'Now we really see what we're made of'

By Anthony Chiang, Miami Herald on

Published in Basketball

After the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat holds a 2-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics. In the end, that's the number that matters.

But there are other numbers that indicate the Celtics have actually been the better team in the series for more minutes than the Heat. It's just that two impressive second-half comebacks from double-digit deficits have resulted in two Miami wins.

Boston has outscored Miami in eight of the 12 regulation quarters and has outscored Miami by a combined score of 332-329 in the series.

Boston has held the lead for 101 of the 144 regulation minutes.

Boston has posted the better offensive rating and defensive rating in the series, outscoring Miami by one point per 100 possessions.

All of the numbers are fairly close because the series is very competitive, but the Celtics hold the edge in a lot of them through the first three games except for when it comes to wins.

 

"All in all, we just have to play harder, play more together and be more locked in," Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler said. "Not going to say that we thought that this was going to be easy because that's not the case, but we've got to put up a lot more fight from the jump and be the nastier team. Be the more scrappier team."

With a three-day gap between Saturday's Game 3 loss and Wednesday's important Game 4, the Heat has plenty of room to improve even with the series lead. Boston and Miami both took Sunday off and did not practice.

Defense, which was a strength for the Heat in the first two rounds of the playoffs, will likely be No. 1 on the list of things to improve.

The Heat has allowed 113.3 points per 100 possessions in the East finals. For context, only four NBA teams finished the regular season with a worse defensive rating.

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