Eastern Conference Finals: Caleb Martin Steals the Show in Game 7

The Eastern Conference Finals of 2023 need to be known as the “Caleb Martin Series.”

The undrafted big was the best player on the court in Monday night’s Game 7 rematch at TD Garden after sitting out Game 7 of the conference finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics last season.

Martin played 45 of the game’s 48 minutes, contributing 26 points, 10 rebounds (tied for the team lead), three assists, and one steal. He made 11 out of 16 field goal attempts, including 4 out of 6 from 3-point range.

The Heat won 103-84 to go to the NBA Finals after exacting revenge for their Game 7 defeat to the Celtics on the same day (May 29) a year ago in Miami. The Heat almost controlled the whole game.
Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: Celtics’ disappointing Game 7 defeat comes as a result of their inability to complete a 0-3 comeback

During the regular season, Martin scored 9.6 points on average per game. In the conference finals against the Celtics, he averaged 19.3 points, more than double his previous output. He had outstanding field-goal and 3-point shooting percentages of 60.2 percent and 48.9 percent, respectively.

Martin only had a 20-point game since Nov. 27 but did it four times throughout the regular season. In this series, he reached the 20-point threshold three times. Four more 3-pointers were made by Martin (22) than by fellow Celtics talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined.

“A ton of credit to the organization and getting me ready for these moments,” Martin said after Game 7. “I do a lot of prep with my coaches and my trainer to get me ready for these moments. It’s super-high-level competition. You can’t hide it. You figure out if you’re built for these type of environments or not whenever you get into them. I feel like I’ve just been continuously prepping and getting ready for these moments, and when these moments come, I feel like I’m ready for them.

“I feel like I’m built for these types of moments. I’m just going to continue to try to get better and feed off guys like Jimmy (Butler) and Bam (Adebayo). They lead the way, and we are just trying to follow.”

Martin appeared to be designed for high-stress situations on Monday night.

With 8:11 remaining in the third quarter, the Celtics had reduced the Heat’s advantage from as many as 17 points. The Heat’s Martin scored the next two baskets to extend their advantage back to 12 at 63-51. With 30.1 seconds left in the third quarter, the C’s had cut the Heat’s advantage to seven points. Martin answered once again with five straight baskets, giving Miami a 76-66 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Martin made a 3-pointer for the Heat on their first possession of the fourth quarter, and Miami was able to coast from there.

The Heat had fewer consistent scorers than the Celtics going into the series and generally less skill. Miami needed a role player (or two) to take the lead in order to pull off an upset. Throughout the series, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, and Gabe Vincent all had runs of outstanding performance, but none of them were as reliable as Martin. He never finished with fewer than 14 points, and only once in the seven games did he shoot under 50%.
Tomase: The Celtics’ unbalanced offense eventually proved fatal against the Heat

Erik Spoelstra, the head coach of the Miami Heat, remarked, “The higher the stakes, the further you go, the more competitors are going to reveal themselves.” It’s not for everyone in this association to play in Game 7s or get to the Conference Finals. If not, more players and teams would participate. You have to have a somewhat different wiring, and Caleb does. He’s a saint. He engages in dual rivalry. puts everything on display for everyone to see. He has taken a variety of positions.

“But we needed him to be more of a player. With Tyler (Herro) and (Victor Oladipo) out, we’ve needed more offense. Quite frankly, we’ve needed more guys like Gabe and Caleb to show how much they have improved with their player development. But yeah, he has so much respect in that locker room just because of how hard he competes. It’s like his last breath on every single possession, and I love the guy for that.”

Especially in Boston, fans who may not have known much about Martin now do. Martin’s performance, though, did not come as much of a surprise to the Heat players.

After Game 7, Heat player Jimmy Butler told reporters, “That might have surprised y’all.” “To the uneducated eye, he just seems to be an undrafted player who has played in the G League, made his debut with Charlotte, and is now in this position. began with a two-way agreement. To you, it appears to be that way. He is a playmaker, defender, shooter, and all of the above in our opinion.

Without Martin, Miami would be on vacation instead of traveling to Denver, and Martin’s offensive efforts were very essential to the Heat defeating the Celtics. Martin will need to play another strong series if the Heat are to pull off one more stunning victory and defeat the Denver Nuggets to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It wouldn’t be shocking if he accepted the challenge at this point.

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