The Heat outlasts the Celtics in Boston as Jayson Tatum goes down

BOSTON — Still upset after a blowout loss in Miami that cost them home field advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat jumped to a 25-point first-half lead over the Boston Celtics in Game 3.

Then Bam Adebayo made sure it was – just barely – enough to give Miami a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The heat center scored 31 points with 10 rebounds, filling a void left by injured All-Star Jimmy Butler and leading Miami to a 109-103 win on Saturday night. Adebayo also had six assists and four of the Heat’s franchise’s postseason records of 19 steals.

“He did his version of what Jimmy does: ‘Do what’s necessary for the game,'” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Tonight we needed the goal and we needed that attacking shot early on.

“When Jimmy dropped out in the second half, he just stabilized us,” added Spoelstra. “It got a little gnarly out there and when it did we were able to get the ball to Bam and just get something coherent.”

Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of the Celtics
Getty Images

The Celtics never led, but they did close a 62-37 deficit to one point, 93-92, with 2:40 to play on a 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown, who finished with 40 points. Max Strus responded with a 3 and then Adebayo bounced off defender Al Horford and made a basket on the shot clock buzzer to give Miami a six-point cushion.

The Celtics never got close.

Game 4 takes place in Boston on Monday night.

“In the previous game, as everyone noticed, they hit us like we stole something,” Adebayo said. “That should wake everyone up. Being beaten like that at home says it all.”

In a bloody game that left Butler and Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart with injuries — though both Celtics returned — Kyle Lowry came back after four games and posted 11 with six assists for the Heat. PJ Tucker — like Lowry, a game decision — scored 17 for Miami.

Horford had 20 points with 14 rebounds and Smart had 16. Tatum had 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting; He also had six turnovers, and Brown committed seven of Boston’s 2022 playoff-high 24 turnovers.

“Six turnovers and no field goals in the second half – that’s unacceptable,” Tatum said. “Honestly, I need to play better. I feel like I let the boys down tonight. That’s on me.”

After losing Game 2 at home by 25 points, the Heat took a 62-37 lead in the second quarter by less than three minutes. Then Boston scored the last 10 points of the half to fight their way back into the game.

Things got worse for the Heat when they announced at halftime that Butler, who scored 41 points in the series opener, would not be returning with a right knee infection.

Still leading 15, 87-72 after three, Miami made it a 17-point play to Adebayo’s basket to start the fourth. But the Celtics ran out the next nine points, getting into single digits for the first time in the first three minutes of the game. Trailing 93-80, the Celtics scored 12 straight points – 10 from Brown – to make it a one-point game with 2:40 left.

Miami scored the next seven points.

“We didn’t think it would suddenly become an easy series and they would roll over,” said Boston coach Ime Udoka. “We rebounded from Game 1 to Game 2 and they wanted to do the same and we had to match that and came out flat for some reason.”

Bam Adebayo, who scored 31 points, celebrates during Heat's Game 3 victory.
Bam Adebayo, who scored 31 points, celebrates during Heat’s Game 3 victory.

Boston opened the second with a basket to make it a 13-point game, but the building fell silent when Smart, Defensive Player of the Year, went down on a loose ball in a collision with Lowry and had to be helped the lockerroom.

Smart returned just five minutes later and caused a huge cheer as the scoreboard showed him walking through the tunnel back to the pitch. He checked back in with seven minutes to go in the third round and hit a 3-pointer that made it a 10-point game, 72-62, forcing the Heat to call a timeout.

The situation repeated itself when Tatum went down in apparent pain with five minutes left in the fourth minute. He went straight to the dressing room, holding his right side but also returning to the cheers of the crowd.

“My neck caught in a weird position,” Tatum said. “Obviously I went down and felt pain and discomfort in my neck and arm. I went back and had it checked and started to get some feeling again, had the doctors check it out and ran some tests and decided to give it a try.

Lowry missed eight of the Heat’s last 10 games with a right thigh strain and last played in Game 4 of Miami’s second-round series with Philadelphia. Tucker had a sore left knee but was also on the starting lineup.

“I have no news on anyone,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just go back to our den and regroup, and maybe tomorrow I’ll have some information for you.”

The Celtics were without center Robert Williams III, who missed three games in the second round against Milwaukee with pain and a bruised bone in his surgically repaired left knee. Daniel Theis started in his place. Derrick White returned after missing Game 2 to attend the birth of his first child. The Heat outlasts the Celtics in Boston as Jayson Tatum goes down


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