HEAT Win Eastern Conference Championship, Advance to NBA Finals

Eliminate Celtics with 125-113 Win
Miami HEAT, Eastern Conference Champions
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

For the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since 2014, the HEAT are back in the NBA Finals.

Incredible, isn’t it?

Thanks to a 28-8 run in the fourth quarter, Miami took control late and defeated the Celtics 125-113 Sunday night at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando to take the conference finals in six. In doing so, the HEAT became the first No. 5 seed to make it to the NBA Finals (three lower seeds have done it before.)

Now let’s get into how Miami did it.

1. Bam Takes Over Late

Although Bam Adebayo did damage in the pick-and-roll early on and led all players with 16 points at the break, he simply would not be denied down the stretch.

In fact, he fought hard on the glass, finished plays off the dribble and dished out some fantastic passes en route to a 10-point, seven-board, four-assist fourth quarter to help the HEAT pull away.

Long story short, he just wanted it more than anybody else.

When it was all said and done, Adebayo amassed a career-high 32 points (regular season or playoffs) on 11-of-15 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 from the line, a game-high 14 rebounds, five assists and a steal. As such, the former Kentucky Wildcat became the first HEAT player to rack up 30 points, 10 boards and five assists in a playoff game since LeBron James in 2014.

2. Jimmy Sets the Tone

At Jimmy Butler’s introductory press conference on Sept. 27, 2019, Pat Riley had this to say:

“The one thing that I feel that I owe the franchise and the city is to put the most competitive team on the court that we can, and one that will compete for championships. I think having Jimmy Butler here is a step in that direction.”

Well, he was right.

Exactly one year later, Butler fulfilled that prophecy due to his aggressive start and strong defense at the top of the zone throughout the night.

But again, his first half was key, as he did work off the dribble, hit pull-up jumpers and also got his teammates going with some solid feeds.

In all, Butler had 22 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the line, a team-high eight assists, two rebounds, one steal and a plus-18 rating.

3. Herro Catches Fire in the Fourth

After a relatively quiet three quarters, Tyler Herro balled out once again in the fourth.

This time around, the rookie (if you can even call him that anymore) led all players with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the final period, including this remarkable finish on the break:

Whoa.

Herro finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, seven assists, five boards and a plus-nine rating.

Other Takeaways:

-Andre Iguodala provided a huge lift off the bench and made his presence felt on both ends.

In addition to wreaking havoc at the top of the zone with Butler, the 36-year-old vet drilled four treys. Yes, four.

Just look at the bench’s reaction after this one late in the third:

Gotta love it.

Iguodala ended up with 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 from deep, three boards, a team-high two steals, one assist and a plus-20 rating.

-As usual, Duncan Robinson was relentless off the ball and led all players with five triples, including this dagger late in the fourth:

You know it’s a big shot when Mike Breen says “BANG!”

In total, Robinson accumulated 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a game-high plus-24 rating.

Game Note:

-Kyle Alexander, KZ Okpala, Chris Silva (Left Pubic Bone Stress Fracture) and Gabe Vincent (Right Knee Soreness) were inactive.

Looking Ahead:

-The HEAT will face the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday at 9PM. You can catch the game exclusively on ABC, but the FOX Sports Sun pre and postgame shows will be on HEAT.com.

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