9/17 Game 2 Preview: Heat at Celtics
If Game 1 was any indication, the first Eastern Conference finals to be devoid of a No. 1 or 2 seed won't lack for excitement.
The Miami Heat got the better of the Boston Celtics 117-114 in overtime on Tuesday to kick off the historic best-of-seven tilt. The teams will look to bring similar energy as Game 2 tips off Thursday night at the NBA bubble near Orlando.
Game 1 featured a 14-point comeback for the Heat in the fourth quarter before Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were the heroes in overtime.
Butler completed the game-winning three-point play with 12 seconds remaining, but it was Adebayo's block to deny Jayson Tatum the chance to tie with 3.7 seconds left that garnered the most attention postgame. It didn't hurt that Magic Johnson tweeted it was the best defensive play he had ever seen in the playoffs.
"I would agree with (Magic)," said Butler. "I really would. I think what Bam did to save that game and to make sure that we win it by putting his body on the line, that really is a really great play."
"No. 1," said Adebayo in ranking the play among the highlights of his three-year career. "Playoffs, game on the line -- No. 1 play."
The effort by Adebayo helped Miami ensure its ninth win in 10 playoff contests. Meanwhile, the loss has Boston trailing for the first time in a series in these playoffs.
"It was a great game, two great teams who play really hard," Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. "They got the plays that they needed that mattered. They did their job, and it's up to us to come back in Game 2 and do ours."
Smart continued his strong playoffs with 26 points in the loss, but it wasn't enough to make up for another poor showing by All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. Walker needed 19 shots to get to 19 points on the night, his third straight game failing to reach 20 points while shooting worse than 32 percent. He was 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
"I'm just playing terrible, to be honest," Walker said. "Not much I can say, but I have to be better. I have to do better for this team on both ends of the floor. I have to make better decisions. I just have to make shots overall."
Equally, the Celtics will look to improve their late game defense after being outscored 35-23 in the fourth quarter. Boston held Miami to a playoff-low 16 points in the third.
"That's what the playoffs is: making adjustments," said Tatum, who had 30 points and 14 rebounds.
For the Heat, it wasn't just Butler and Adebayo delivering in Game 1. Goran Dragic scored a team-high 29 points, and Jae Crowder added 22 against his former team, but perhaps the most important performance was from rookie guard Tyler Herro, who fell an assist shy of his first career triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) in 40 minutes off the bench.
"He was out there hooping," Butler said. "He's comfortable. He's confident. We continue to tell him to be that way no matter what game we're in. We need you to play that way. He's been preparing for this moment all year long. There's nothing that we're not comfortable with him doing."