Adebayo & Butler Help HEAT Outlast Celtics in Game 1
Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant
In the days leading up to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Erik Spoelstra mentioned countless times that the HEAT needed to embrace the competition and get to their game more consistently than the Celtics.
And well, they did just that down the stretch on Tuesday night and defeated Boston 117-114 in overtime at The Field House in Orlando to take a 1-0 series lead.
Naturally, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler were at the center of it all.
1. Bam Seals It
While Adebayo has made some big-time defensive plays throughout his career, absolutely nothing touches this block on Jayson Tatum with 5.1 seconds left in OT to seal the deal:
Of course, that kind of strong defense was present throughout, as Adebayo also made things tough on Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker either at the rim in help situations or along the perimeter on switches.
And on the flip side of the ball, Adebayo initiated offense, displayed fantastic court vision and hit his teammates with some great feeds.
Long story short, Bam was Bam.
In all, the former Kentucky Wildcat amassed 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field and 8-of-11 from the line, a game and playoff career-high nine assists (tied with Tyler Herro), six boards, a game-high two blocks (tied with Tatum and Jae Crowder), one steal and a plus-12 rating.
2. “Playoff Jimmy” Does It Again
After letting the game come to him early on, Butler kicked things into high gear and made some monster plays late to give the HEAT the victory.
Not only did he nail a clutch corner three near the end of regulation, but he also absorbed contact and came through with the go-ahead bucket over Tatum late in OT.
That’s “Playoff Jimmy” at his finest.
Being “Playoff Jimmy” also entailed stout defense on Tatum in man and on multiple guys at the top of the zone with either Crowder or Andre Iguodala.
When it was all said and done, Butler tallied 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including 2-of-3 from deep, and 4-of-6 from the line, five boards, five assists, a team-high two steals and a plus-nine rating.
3. Dragić Strong Throughout
With Miami struggling a bit early, Goran Dragić helped keep the team afloat with some aggressive takes to the rack. And whether it was in the halfcourt or in transition, the Dragon got the job done regardless.
In fact, he had a game-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting at the break before he led the HEAT with nine points in the fourth, including this finish off a nice defensive play by Butler:
Dragić ended up with a team-high 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from downtown, and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, seven rebounds, four assists, one block and a game-high plus-13 rating.
-Simply put, Herro had his entire arsenal on display against the Celtics.
As such, he continued to do his thing off the bounce, dished out some solid passes and flirted with a triple-double.
But once again, he drilled some huge threes late in regulation.
You can’t teach that.
In total, the rookie had 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-5 from distance, a team and playoff career-high 11 rebounds and a game and playoff career-high nine assists (tied with Adebayo).
-As usual, Crowder spaced the floor and hit some vital treys, but his defense in both man and zone looks was even more important.
Just look at this block on Walker down the stretch in regulation:
Crowder finished with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, five rebounds, a game-high two blocks (tied with Adebayo and Tatum) one assist and one steal.
-Kyle Alexander, KZ Okpala, Chris Silva (Left Pubic Bone Stress Fracture) and Gabe Vincent were inactive.
-Game 2 will be on Thursday at 7PM. You can catch the game exclusively on ESPN, but the FOX Sports Sun pre and postgame shows will be on HEAT.com.