Wednesday night’s matchup featured two teams battling for the first seed in the Eastern Conference standings. The Miami Heat entered the night with a one-game lead over the Boston Celtics. The game went about as many expected. Both teams competed hard on the defensive end and kept trading baskets. In the end, Miami was able to make more plays to finish the game. With the win, Miami moves to 49-28 for the season. They also officially clinched a playoff berth. Here are four takeaways from Wednesday’s victory over Boston.
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Sticking With Strus
A week ago, the Heat went with Max Strus down the stretch against the New York Knicks. The Knicks guards kept hunting Strus on switches, and it ended up hurting Miami. On Wednesday, Miami stuck with Strus again. This time it paid off. Strus was already playing terrific defense throughout the game. But it was his defense in the fourth period that allowed Miami to escape with the victory. He stayed in front of both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on multiple possessions. He blocked Brown’s shot in the paint and took a huge charge against Tatum late in the game. If Strus keeps this up, he’ll have a shot to stick in the starting lineup. Strus ended the night with 14 points, seven rounds, and two blocks.
Lowry in Attack Mode
The playoffs are around the corner, and it seems like Kyle Lowry is ready for it. Once again, Lowry continued to be aggressive with his scoring throughout the game. He started off with two pull-up triples out of the high pick-and-roll action. This is such an important element of the Heat’s offense. His pull-up threat gives Lowry more options in breaking down defenses. He made a nice pass to Bam Adebayo on the roll and was able to feed Jimmy Butler off a cut. It was Lowry who kept the Heat afloat during the Celtics’ scoring runs. When he was off the court, Miami often struggled. Lowry finished the night with 23 points and eight assists.
Adebayo Everywhere on the Floor
Adebayo had a good game on both ends of the floor Wednesday night. You may look at the box score and wonder why his point total wasn’t higher against Boston’s bigs. But, what he did on the court spoke louder than the box score. He impacted the game so well defensively. While ESPN lauded Marcus Smart for his defensive plays, it was Adebayo who was literally everywhere on the floor for Miami. While guarding Boston’s star wing players, he also played terrific help defense. Having a center who can move around like Adebayo is very essential in today’s game, and he does a phenomenal job at it. Adebayo finished the night with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
Butler’s Mid Range Game
Last game, Butler made three shots from downtown. Those shots didn’t fall as much last night. But, that was okay. What was good was seeing him hit the midrange jumper. We know how good Butler is at attacking the paint and scoring around the basket. However, there are going to be times when he needs to hit shots outside the paint. Butler did that plenty of times against the aggressive Celtics defense. In the playoffs, teams are going to try to take away your strengths. This is why it’s important for Butler to hit those mid-range shots. He ended the night with 24 points.
Next Up: The Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The game tips off at 8 pm eastern.
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