Heat fans can exhale after Game 3 got wild towards the end of the final period. Miami grabbed a 26-point lead in the first half, but the Boston Celtics climbed back into the game and cut the lead down to one in the fourth quarter. The Heat were already facing a tough challenge entering the second half, as Boston had momentum at the end of the first. Jimmy Butler was out for the second half with a knee injury. This was going to be a tall task for Miami to finish the game, but they did. The Heat got key stops and hit timely shots to seal the game. With the win, Miami now has a 2-1 lead in the series. Here are my takeaways from Saturday’s win over Boston.
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Adebayo Steps Up
In the first two games of the series, Bam Adebayo has been nonexistent on the offensive end. He had a total of 16 points between Games 1 and 2 combined. Adebayo was passive with the ball a lot and wasn’t looking for his shot. Heading into Game 3, Miami needed their big man to respond, and get him involved offensively. Adebayo responded. On the second possession, he went right at Al Horford to the paint. This was something Miami hasn’t seen much of from their big man. He kept it going throughout the game. With Adebayo aggressive with his scoring, it also opened up his playmaking opportunities as well. This was a complete performance from the Heat star on Saturday night. Adebayo finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
Lowry Sets the Pace
After missing the last couple of games with a hamstring injury, Kyle Lowry was back in the starting lineup. Even though he was back, everyone wondered whether he was fully healthy. He certainly was missed in Miami’s last game against the Celtics. Lowry’s impact was immediately felt in the opening minutes of the game. The Heat’s offense was much better. He threw a pitch-ahead pass to Butler for the ‘and-1’ early in the shot clock. He also got the ball to Adebayo in his spots. Lowry continued to look for him throughout the game. The hamstring was still bothering him some in the second half, however, he still provided a calming presence for Miami down the stretch. Lowry finished the night with 11 points and six assists.
Butler Goes Down
As mentioned, Butler went down with a knee injury after the first half. He did not return in the second. This was a huge blow for Miami, as Butler’s performances have played a huge role in their playoff success. At times, it seemed like he was on an island by himself. But with him out, Miami really needed others to step up and they did. Adebayo continued to provide scoring in the paint. Others like Max Strus and P.J. Tucker were able to knock down a couple of buckets, as well. Defensively, Miami held their own. Their defense was a huge reason for staying ahead in the game. Yahoo Sports’ Chris B. Haynes tweeted after the game that Butler’s injury is not considered serious. That sounds like good news for Miami heading into Game 4.
Victor Oladipo did not play at all in the first half. Instead, Miami went with Duncan Robinson and ran a lot of zone defense with him on the floor. But with Butler out, Oladipo’s number was called. He started the second half in place of Butler, and while he didn’t have the best offensive night, his defense was huge. Oladipo was a bully on the defensive end against the Celtics’ perimeter players. He played great on the ball defense and was all over the place on rotations. Miami continued to stick with Oladipo during the late stretches of the game. Without his contributions on that end, Miami may not have won this game. Oladipo finished with five points in 20 minutes of action.
Next up: Game 4 on Monday. The game tips off at 8:30pm eastern time.
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