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NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat roll over Boston Celtics in third quarter

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals 118-107. The top seed played a superb third quarter, led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, to counter a strong first half from the weakened visitors.

Jimmy Butler was the dominating play for the hosts, the heat-forward scoring 17 of his 41 points (12/19 FG, 17/18 FT) in the third quarter. In addition, Butler recorded 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals and repeatedly put the Celtics’ ball handlers under pressure. Tyler Herro (18, 7/15) kissed the hosts awake after a weak start.

Gabe Vincent (17) was convincing, as was Bam Adebayo (10, 3/4, 4 blocks), both of whom played a large part in the Heat completely throwing Boston out of rhythm early in the second half and punishing them in transition. Jayson Tatum (29, 10/21, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals) played an outstanding first half with 21 points, but managed 6 turnovers in the third quarter alone.

Robert Williams (18, 9 rebounds) was one of the bright spots for the guests, and Daniel Theis (8, 4/5, 4 rebounds) also had a few good moments, including this monster block against Dewayne Dedmon’s dunk attempt. Payton Pritchard scored 18 points (6/16), but was repeatedly involved in plays on defense by the Heat and Butler due to his size.

The Celtics made double substitutions compared to Game 7 as Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (Corona) were out. Derrick White started for them and Robert Williams on the front court, who dominated the first few minutes. Miami needed some time (0/7 to start), it was only with Herro that the offense started to roll. The Celtics still led 28:25 after a quarter.

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Heat Defense and Butler turn game around

With Tatum and “Time Lord” back on the pitch, the visitors pulled away for the first time. Twice Tatum found the center with a lob and also completed a few drives. There was also offense from Pritchard, while there was very little from the role players of the hosts. The Celtics were leading 62:54 at the break, with Tatum hitting a jump shot by the end of the half and having already collected 21 points.

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But it was only three minutes before Miami took the lead. A quick 10-1 run angered Celtics coach Ime Udoka, but things didn’t get much better after a break. It took seven minutes for Boston to post a field goal, during which time the visitors instead accumulated 5 turnovers, twice Butler stole the ball for easy points. Tatum lost the ball six times, the Celtics’ rhythm was completely gone and Miami won the quarter 39:14 (!). The game was turned, the Heat led 93:76.

The game seemed to be over, but after just two minutes the Celtics were already in the bonus. With a 10-0 run, the guests reduced the deficit to -10 with Butler on the bench. But they couldn’t get any closer at first, as Butler was mercilessly looking for Pritchard on defense and Max Strus now hit his three-pointer. Boston didn’t give up, but Butler always had an answer and confidently rocked the win home even in crunch time.

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