Celtics vs. Heat Score, takeaways: Bam Adebayo leads Miami to crucial Game 3 win despite Jimmy Butler loss


Celtics vs. Heat Score, takeaways: Bam Adebayo leads Miami to crucial Game 3 win despite Jimmy Butler loss

The Miami Heat stormed to a 26-point lead over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 Saturday night, only to defend a 109-103 win at TD Garden after a furious second-half rally by the home team after Jimmy Butler suffered a knee infection excluded from the game. In the end, Butler’s absence in the final two quarters wasn’t enough for Boston to make the comeback, as Bam Adebayo wrapped up the win with a team-high 31 points, along with 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jaylen Brown was fantastic for Boston, finishing the game with 40 points and nine rebounds. While Al Horford and Marcus Smart combined for 36 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, the Celtics couldn’t get over a poor shooting night by Jayson Tatum as the All-Star fought mightily off the field and only 3-to-14 for the night ended .

The win gives Miami a 2-1 lead over Boston with Game 4 on Monday night.

Here are four key takeaways from the game:

1. Injuries are back in focus

Unfortunately, it was impossible to talk about this postseason and this series in particular without talking about injuries. Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Derrick White and Robert Williams all have missed a game in that series for the Celticswhile Kyle Lowry didn’t play for the Heat in the first two games.

The problem only got worse on Saturday when Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler entered the locker room at different points. Butler in particular was not used in the second half due to a knee infection. However, he should be fine if he goes forward. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he doesn’t need an MRI, and according to USA Today Butler won’t waste any more time.

Smart and Tatum actually returned to the game, although their injuries appeared to be more serious. Early in the second quarter, Smart suffered an awkward-looking sprained ankle, which was aggravated when Lowry accidentally rolled over his leg. Tatum later got a stinger in a fight for a loose ball and lay in severe pain for several minutes. After the game, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said Smart and Tatum should both be good to move forward.

2. Adebayo shows up

Bam Adebayo made his third straight appearance for an all-defensive team this season and would have been an All-Star and possibly even Defensive Player of the Year if he hadn’t missed an extended stretch with a thumb injury. However, he was largely invisible in the first two games of that streak, finishing with a total of 16 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.

That all changed in Game 3. Adebayo came out looking like a man on a mission. He challenged the ball early and often, hitting a series of mid-range jumpers and shots around the edge. He nearly matched his first two game totals in the first quarter of this year as he had 12 points to help the Heat build an early double-digit lead.

Late in the game, when Butler was out of action, he leveled back up. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter to stave off the Celtics’ comeback attempt, including a stunning off-balance jump to beat the shot clock with 1:23 left. That shot pushed the Heat’s lead back to six and ended up being the dagger.

As of last summer, Adebayo had by far his best performance of the entire postseason with 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals. The Heat will need Adebayo, who plays like this, if they want to finish the job against the Celtics – especially if Butler isn’t 100 percent.

3. Lowry makes an impression on his return

Kyle Lowry had not played since Game 4 of the second round of the Heat series with the Philadelphia 76ers due to a hamstring injury and there was no clear timeline for his return. It turned out he was ready for Game 3 and his return came at the perfect time for the Heat.

While Lowry is far from his peak, he’s still an important part of this Heat team. This was a prototypical Lowry performance, as his stats weren’t that impressive — 11 points, one rebound, six assists, four steals on a 4-of-11 shooting — but he ended up up 10. He made timely plays and got them heat under control.

A case in point was his steal with 48 seconds remaining. While the rest of the Heat retreated after a free throw, Lowry flew in to steal a lazy inbound pass from Grant Williams and then found Max Strus for a layup that ended all Celtic hopes.

The heat is just better when Lowry is on the ground.

4. Celtics are to blame

The Heat were great starting this game and deserve a lot of credit for how they started and then managed to hang down the track without Jimmy Butler. That being said, the Celtics could and probably should have won this game. They got 16 more free throws, Butler didn’t play in the second half and they were down to one, but they didn’t make it and it’s their own fault.

Once again, turnovers and careless play were the biggest problems. They weren’t focused or ready to match the intensity of the Heat to start the game, which was never supposed to happen at home in the Eastern Conference Finals. And although they eventually got back into the game, they never really settled down.

They had a whopping 23 turnovers, including 13 from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — the most those two have ever scored in a game together. The Heat capitalized on that, scoring 33 points — over 30 percent of their total offense — from those turnovers. In a game they lost by just six, the Celtics gifted the Heat 33 points.

In addition to the turnovers, the Celtics got another dud from Tatum, who finished with just 10 points to level his lowest-scoring game of the postseason. He shot 3/14 from the field and had twice as many turnovers as shots. That doesn’t even take into account his shoulder injury. Tatum has been spectacular at times in the playoffs, but he’s prone to those nightmare games the Celtics can’t afford. If he puts in a halfway decent performance, they win this game.

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