Heat fight back as Celtics bounce back to lead 2-1 ECF

What initially seemed like a romp for the Heat on Saturday turned into sweat for Miami, with its best player sidelined.

But after the game, the Heat showed up A grueling 109-103 victory Victory over the Boston Celtics for a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals. They did it so late without Jimmy Butler, who missed the entire second half Accompanied by knee inflammation. After scoring a combined 16 points in Games 1 and 2, Bam Adebayo helped the Heat win with his best game of the series.

Bam Adebayo (13) reacts after the third quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.Mandatory Credit: David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

Bam Adebayo responded after struggling in Game 1 and Game 2. (David Butler II/Reuters)

Another conference finals binge?incomplete

The Heat dominated most of the first half, leading 46-20 in the second quarter, which drew boos from the TD Garden crowd. Boston suffered a turnover at home when Miami shot from a 3-pointer. But the Celtics put pressure on the Heat with a 10-0 run before halftime to close the second quarter and close the deficit to 62-47. Jayson Tatum’s halftime 3-pointer gave them hope.

Jimmy Butler’s second-half surprise

Things got worse in Miami after halftime when the Heat announced at the start of the third quarter that Butler would not be returning. He unexpectedly scratched him without any visible signs of trauma for most of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Celtics carried their momentum into the fourth quarter while surviving injury scare from Marcus Smart and Tatum. They cut the Heat’s lead to 93-92 on a Jaylen Brown 3-pointer with 2:40 left. But the Heat pressed the defense in the closing moments as the turnovers that plagued the Celtics all game sealed their fate as the Heat backed off for the win. With 48 seconds left, Kyle Lowry made a steal in Boston’s backcourt and Max Struth made a layup to give the Heat a 103-94 lead to end the game.

To sweeten the win, the Heat seemed to end the game with the good news of Butler’s injury. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported in the fourth quarter that the Heat expect Butler’s knee discomfort to force him to miss Monday’s fourth game.

The Celtics can take consolation as they pulled out of the game without serious injuries. Smart appears to have suffered a serious ankle sprain The third quarter just started, and it came back a few minutes later to finish the game. Tatum fell to the ground late in the fourth quarter and left the locker room as his shoulder appeared to be injured in the collision. But like Smart, he was back on the court quickly.

Turnover doom Celtics as Tatum struggles

Boston made up an early deficit with poor ball safety, turning the ball over 11 times in the first half against an aggressive Miami defense, who turned turnovers into easy buckets on the other end. Despite their rebound, the Celtics didn’t improve in the second half as they totaled 23 turnovers in the game. The culprit is the Boston star. Brown accounted for seven giveaways, while Tatum accounted for six.

Brown tried his best to make up for the turnover with a game-high 40 points and 9 rebounds. But Tatum failed to find a rhythm in Miami’s defense, where he finished with 10 points and six rebounds on 3-of-14 shooting.

Boston Celtics No. 0 Jayson Tatum during the third quarter against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals on May 21, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts react in the game. Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photo, User agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Jayson Tatum struggled in Game 3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Heat, meanwhile, had just eight turnovers in the entire game. They cooled off from deep after hitting five of their first seven 3-pointers. But their 12-for-32 shooting (37.5 percent) was enough to maintain their advantage when combined with their opportunistic defense. That, plus Adebayo’s big night.

Bam on stage

The Heat center nearly doubled his scoring in his first two games with 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals. He shot 15-of-22 from the field while posting a game-high plus-minus 17 in the plus-minus column. In the final two minutes of the game, he broke the game with a contested 17-foot jumper that shattered shooting time and extended Miami’s lead to 98-92.

Critics of Adebayo in Games 1 and 2 had no doubts about Saturday’s effort. Meanwhile, PJ Tucker had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals, while Struth had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Victor Oladipo tied Adebayo and Lowry off the bench with a game-high four steals.

After both teams won, the Heat survived late Saturday’s pressure to claim their first contentious win of the series. The pressure now shifts directly to Celtic, who need to win Game 4 at home to avoid an away knockout in Game 5.

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