The Miami Heat have gone back up in the Eastern Conference Finals. Thanks to a monster game by Bam Adebayo and the Boston Celtics’ carelessness with the basketball, Miami was able to survive letting a 26-point lead get down to one during the series’ first game in Boston. As a result, the Heat picked up a 109-103 win over the Celtics to take a 2-1 lead.
The first quarter could not have gone much better for the Heat. Uplifted by the return of Kyle Lowry from a hamstring and Bam Adebayo having one of his best quarters of the postseason, the team found itself up, 39-18, thanks to its ability to get darn near anything it wanted.
Miami shot a scorching 64 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from three in the first quarter, and had more assists (seven) and the same number of steals (five) as the Celtics had made field goal attempts. While Jaylen Brown’s early 11 points were a positive, just about everything else that Boston did to start the game could have gone much better.
The Celtics kept them from extending their lead too much, but the Heat still were in total control for much of the second. They continued to score off of turnovers and got extra opportunities via their offensive rebounding — Miami attempted 16 more field goals than Boston.
Despite this, the lead was not as impressive as it seemed destined to be when it was as many as 26. A gigantic free throw advantage gave the Celtics a chance to score despite how well the Heat scored — they shot 14-18 from the charity stripe while Miami went 3-3 — and Boston was able to go on a flurry to end the half. The Celtics went on a 10-0 run over the final 90 seconds of the period to give Miami a 62-47 led going into the locker room.
The Heat suffered a gigantic loss at the half, as Jimmy Butler was ruled out for the remainder of the game due to right knee inflammation. Not long after, Marcus Smart had to leave the game after a nasty ankle roll, but upon returning to the game several minutes later, Smart hit a three that got the crowd at TD Garden on their feet.
Every time it seemed like Boston was starting to make up ground in the third, Miami had an answer. On four separate occasions, the Celtics had someone hit a shot to get the lead down to nine or 10 points, and each time, the Heat were able to prevent things from getting any closer. A big culprit was Boston’s complete inability to protect the basketball, as the team committed 17 turnovers — 14 of which were steals by Miami — through three.
Boston was once again able to cut into the lead when it started the fourth on an 8-0 run, which was broken via an Adebayo dunk.
Still, the Celtics kept creeping closer and closer, even after Tatum briefly had to make his way into the locker room with a shoulder injury. Brown, in particular, came to life, going on a 10-0 on his own to get the lead down to one.
A three by Max Strus stopped the bleeding with just over two minutes remaining, while the dagger came on a prayer to beat the shot clock by Adebayo, who hoisted up a shot while getting hounded by Al Horford.
A whole lot of free throws took place down the stretch, and ultimately, Miami was able to do enough. Adebayo’s 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals led the way for the Heat, while Tucker had 17 and seven rebounds, Strus had 16, and Lowry had 11 points, six assists, and four steals. Five players on Miami’s roster registered at least two steals, and they managed to force 19 as a team. Brown was tops on the Celtics with 40 points and nine rebounds, Horford had 20 and 14 rebounds, and Smart had 16 points with seven dimes. Tatum struggled on the night, scoring 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
Game 4 between the Heat and Celtics is scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday night on ESPN.