The Heat survived the Celtics without Jimmy Butler in the second half, winning Game 3 for a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.


Boston – After a second half without star Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat played an important road game, beating the Boston Celtics 109-103 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.

Building a 25-point second quarter lead and nearly wasting in the second half, the shorthand Heat blocked Boston’s rally to take the 2-1 series lead.

Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, and PJ Tucker scored 17 points, including 4 key free throws and 7 rebounds, in the second half of the fourth quarter.

After Boston’s Jalen Brown scored a three-point shot that beat the Miami lead 93-92, Heat scored the next seven for a 100-92 lead with 1:07 remaining in the game.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said no MRI was needed for Butler (inflammation of his right knee), and one person who was aware of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that Butler was not expected to be absent. He requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about his butler status.

Game 4 is on Monday (8:30 PM ET, ABC).

Here are six key points from Miami’s victory.

Aggressive Adebayo from the start

Adebayo had a quiet second leg in an overwhelming Celtics victory. During a Saturday morning shootout, Spoelstra said: “We want him to be more involved. We have to do a better job of enabling him to engage, engage, and trigger us. …he is a very important part of our attack and our functioning. “

Heat made a conscious effort to get him involved early. Adebayo responded in the opening quarter with 12 out of 16 points in the first half. These 16 points are equivalent to the total points earned in the first two games of the series.

It was Adebayo’s necessary effort.

floating molding series

Boston’s Robert Williams (knee pain) missed Game 3. Butler didn’t return in the second half due to a right knee sore, and defender of the year, Boston’s Marcus Smart, went to the locker room at 10 with an obvious foot problem. 57 times in the third quarter. He limped back with 6:52 left in the bottom of the third inning and shot a straight three-pointer, narrowing the Miami lead to 72-62.

Boston star Jayson Tatum went to the locker room with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter with an obvious shoulder/arm injury. He also returned to the game.

Smart (right foot sprain) and Al Horford (COVID-19 protocol) missed Game 1 of the Celtics and hit point guard Kyle Lowry (left hamstring injury) missed the first two games of the series.

Tatum struggles to score.

Tatum did not score his first goal until 8:49 in the second quarter, and he scored only 12 three RBIs, including six three-pointers, with nine runs in the third quarter.

He finished with just 19 points in 14 three-shots, including seven in three at-bats.

Brown (highest 40 points, 9 rebounds) and Horford (20 points, 14 rebounds) led the Celtics aggressively. Smart added 16 points.

Laurie Returns for Hits

Lowry, who first played in the series, had an immediate impact. He directed the pace, found an open shooter, calmly controlled the offense, shot an early 3-pointer, and stole a base.

“I’m closer to a veteran leader than (Gabe) Vincent and a few younger players,” said Celtics manager Ime Udoka. “His shot-making ability, his ability to charge, all the cunning he brings that I have seen over the years definitely helps the team. But they bring him in for a reason. He suits what they do. – wise and leadership wise. Do.”

Rory finished with 11 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.

Painful turnover for the Celtics

Boston had 24 turnovers and 33 hit points. Heat recorded just nine turnovers for nine Celtics points.

Brown has 7 turnovers, Tatum has 6 turnovers, Smart has 4 turnovers and Horford has 3 turnovers. The Celtics were sloppy with a basketball in the third quarter of Miami’s Game 1 win.

The Celtics made a late turn on the inbound pass after Miami’s Victor Oladipo made a free throw, leading to a Max Strus layup and a 103-94 Heat lead.

Late Celtics mini meltdown

After cutting Miami’s lead 103-97, Smart took a foul out and a technical foul, turning his sixth foul into 3-point play, Grant Williams was awarded an explicit foul one with 24.7 seconds left and Celtics trailed 106-100. . Oladipo made one of two free throws and Heat retained possession.

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter. @JeffZillgitt.

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