In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat trailed the Boston Celtics by as many as 14 points before outscoring them 35-23 in the fourth quarter to force overtime, coming away with a win in the extra period.
The Heat again trailed by as many as 17 points in Game 2 before outscoring the Celtics 37-17 in the third quarter, flipping the game on its head to alter momentum and take a 2-0 series lead.
In Game 3, Miami allowed itself to get into a 20-point hole, never leading in the game's entirety but yet still nearly pulled off a third consecutive double-digit comeback to dig Boston into a 3-0 deficit.
With only five minutes left in the game, the Celtics held a commanding 104-88 lead and looked like they were going to coast to their first victory of the Conference Finals. In the blink of an eye - and three Duncan Robinson 3s later - the Heat had cut the lead to just five points with 55 seconds remaining. It was déjà vu all over again.
This time around, Boston would hold on to pick up the win with their backs against the wall.
Following the loss, Miami All-Star forward Jimmy Butler was critical of his team's approach so far in this series.
"I think it gets old, playing from behind consistently," Butler told the media. "Especially against a great team like Boston and what they bring to the table."
The Heat have been playing from behind almost the entire series despite their 2-1 lead. According to Celtics play-by-play announcer Sean Grande, Miami has only led in 20.3% of the minutes played in the series through the first three games.
Miami's All-Star centre Bam Adebayo was on the same page as Butler, too.
"We've got to start the game how we start the fourth," Adebayo stated after the loss. "I feel like we're not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth, we just try to turn it on. It's not like that. We are not that type of team."
Even though the Heat haven't had much of an issue completing comebacks so far this playoffs, it's becoming clear that they cannot continue to rely on those late pushes to get the job done.
They'll have to get off to a much better start in Game 4 if they're going to avoid allowing the Celtics to tie the series at two games apiece, making it a best two-out-of-three series to reach the NBA Finals.
Game 4 is set to take place on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 a.m. IST.
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