The Heat outscored the Celtics in Boston when Jayson Tatum goes down

BOSTON – Still angry over a loss in Miami that cost them home advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat jumped to a 25-point lead in the first half over the Boston Celtics in Game 3.

Then Bam Adebayo made sure it was enough – just barely – to give Miami a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Heat center scored 31 points with 10 rebounds, filled a void left by injured All-Star Jimmy Butler and led Miami to a 109-103 victory Saturday night. Adebayo also had six assists and four of the Heats franchise after the season’s record of 19 steals.

“He did his version of what Jimmy does: ‘Do what’s necessary for the game,'” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Tonight we needed the scoring and we needed the offensive blow early.

“So, when Jimmy was out in the second half, he just stabilized us,” Spoelstra added. “It got a little knotty out there, and when it did, we were able to get the ball to Bam and just get something cohesive.”

The Heat outscored the Celtics in Boston when Jayson Tatum goes down
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum
Getty Images

The Celtics never led, but they reduced a 62-37 deficit to one point, 93-92, by 2:40 to play on a 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown, who finished with 40 points. Max Strus responded with a 3, and then Adebayo bounced off defender Al Horford and made a basket at the buzzer of the shot clock to give Miami a six-point cushion.

The Celtics never got any closer.

Match 4 is Monday night in Boston.

“In the previous game, which everyone noticed, they hit us as if we were stealing something,” Adebayo said. “It should wake everyone up. To be beaten at home the way it says it all.”

In a blue-collar match in which Butler and Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart left with injuries – though both Celtics returned – Kyle Lowry came back from four games of absence and scored 11 with six assists for the Heat. PJ Tucker – like Lowry, a game-time decision – scored 17 for Miami.

Horford scored 20 points with 14 rebounds, and Smart scored 16. Tatum had 10 points on 3-for-14 shots; he also had six turnovers, and Brown committed to seven of Boston’s 2022 playoff-high 24 turnovers.

“Six turnovers and no field goals in the second half – that’s unacceptable,” said Tatum. “Honestly, I need to play better. I feel like I let the guys hang out tonight. It’s up to me.”

After losing Game 2 at home by 25 points, the Heat opened a 62-37 lead with less than three minutes left in the second quarter. Then Boston scored the last 10 points of the half to fight back in the match.

Things got worse for the Heat when they announced at the break that Butler, who scored 41 in the series opener, would not return with inflammation in his right knee.

Miami still led 15, 87-72, after three, making it a 17-point game on Adebayo’s basket to start the fourth. But the Celtics ran off with the next nine points to get within single digits for the first time since the first three minutes of the match. After 93-80, the Celtics scored 12 equal points – 10 by Brown – to make it a one-point game with 2:40 left.

Miami scored the next seven points.

“We did not think it would suddenly become an easy series and they would topple,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “We came back from game 1 to game 2 and they wanted to do the same thing and we had to match it and get flat out for some reason.”

Bam Adebayo, who scored 31 points, celebrates during the Heat's Game 3 victory.
Bam Adebayo, who scored 31 points, celebrates during the Heat’s Game 3 victory.
AP

Boston opened the second with a basket to make it a 13-point game, but the building became quiet as Smart, this year’s defender, fell into a collision with Lowry while walking after a loose ball and had to be helped to the locker room.

Smart returned just five minutes later and caused a huge cheer as the scoreboard showed him walking down the tunnel back towards the pitch. He checked in again with seven minutes left of the third and hit a 3-pointer that made it a 10-point game, 72-62, forcing the Heat to call timeout.

The situation was repeated as Tatum went down in obvious pain with five minutes left of the fourth. He went straight into the locker room and grabbed his right side, but also returned to the cheers of the audience.

“My neck was caught in a strange position,” Tatum said. “Obviously I went down and felt some pain and discomfort in my neck and down my arm. I went to the back, got it checked and started to get a feeling back and got it checked by the doctors and ran some tests and decided to give it a try. “

Lowry missed eight of the Heat’s previous 10 games with a strain in his right hind thigh, most recently in Game 4 of Miami’s second round series with Philadelphia. Tucker had a sore left knee, but was also in the starting lineup.

“I have no updates on anyone,” Spoelstra said. “We just need to get back to our cave and just regroup, and maybe I have some information for you tomorrow.”

The Celtics played without center Robert Williams III, who missed three games in the second round against Milwaukee with soreness and a bone bruise in his surgically repaired left knee. Daniel Theis started in his place. Derrick White returned after missing Game 2 for being at the birth of his first child.

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