Miami Heat survives Jimmy Butler’s exit to win over Boston Celtics in Game 3

BOSTON — The Miami Heat personally lost to the Boston Celtics in Game 2.

That was the message from a proud locker room for the Heat after Saturday night’s 109-103 rout, which gave them a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

After an underwhelming second game, embarrassing the team by not finding their rhythm on both ends of the floor, the Heat started Saturday’s game with their season-defining advantage on both ends of the floor. Contest.

“They beat us like we stole something in Game 2,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said. “So this awakened enthusiasm in all of us.”

After struggling in the first two games of the series, Adebayo had the best game of his career in Game 3, scoring 31 points, 10 rebounds, six times in 42 minutes Assists and 1 block, shot 15-22 from the floor.

Adebayo can lead Heat to title even after star swingman Jimmy Butler Having to leave the game at half-time due to inflammation in his right knee was all the more impressive.

Butler has been dealing with the same problem since injuring his knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Atlanta Hawks and missing Game 5 of the series. After missing the entire second half of Saturday, he was seen greeting his teammates in the locker room as they left the TD Garden floor.

Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said Butler didn’t need another knee MRI, but his status in Game 4 on Monday night remained unclear.

“He wasn’t as explosive as normal,” Spoelstra said of Butler. “He was able to do that. I think the next two days are going to be very important, obviously.

“At half-time, really, the coach called. It just felt like we and a couple of our guys were in that situation a lot. We almost had to restrain them. We got it, we liked them, how they were wired. But we also don’t want to be irresponsible.

As was the norm for Spoelstra during his time in Miami, the rest of the Heat were able to step up and fill the void. Kyle LowryHe has not played since injuring his left hamstring again in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers on May 8, scoring 11 points and 6 while providing a solid veteran presence on the defensive end. assists.

“Some of the things about this team are that we have hard-working people,” Lowry said. “Udonis [Haslem] It’s always said that all of us are having a hard time, all of us. A lot of undrafted players, a lot of low-round picks, second-rounders. We’ve all found ways to make a living and find ways to do our jobs at a high level and stay here and stay. This means a lot to us. “

One former G League player who made a huge difference Saturday is max struth. The 25-year-old guard hit a 3-pointer with 2:16 left to hit the biggest shot of the night, giving the Heat, who have been leading 93-92, the dagger they need. . Shut down the Celtics.

As Struth explained, it was Lowry who actually built the final sequence.

“At the timeout, Kyle said, let’s do a lockout for Max,” Struth said. “Let’s get him on. So when he said that, I had confidence in the world to step up and shoot.”

Heat still confident of finding a way to win this series, even with Butler and guards Tyler Herrohe was dealing with what appeared to be a limb injury, trying to find his way back on the field in Game 4.

The Heat walked out of the TD Garden beaming, knowing they found a way out of the odds and giving the Celtics a blow many didn’t expect after a demolition like Boston’s in Game 2. .

“They’re like a wounded animal,” Celtics big man Al Horford said. “They came out and fought. For whatever reason, we just didn’t have the same sense of urgency.”

Now, as the Heat wait to see how Butler’s knee responds to treatment, they know they’ll be back in Miami with a worst-case 2-2 tie in the series.

“No matter what happens, at the end of the day, if you give your all and play hard, you have to be happy and accept the result,” Lowry said. “That’s what we do.”

Tim Bontemps of ESPN contributed to this report

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