Bam Adebayo made a clutch block with 2.5 seconds left in overtime as the Miami Heat rallied past the Boston Celtics, 117-114, in the opening game of their NBA Eastern Conference final on Tuesday, September 15 (Wednesday, September 16, Philippine time)
Adebayo leaped high to take what appeared to be an easy dunk away from Celtics star Jayson Tatum to preserve the Heat's slim lead, 116-114. Adebayo then capped the scoring by sinking a free throw at the other end.
Tatum, who finished with a game-high 30 points, missed a desperation 29-foot three-pointer at the buzzer in the NBA's quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
Game 2 is Thursday night in Orlando.
Goran Dragic scored 29 points, Jae Crowder had 22 and Jimmy Butler finished with 20 for the Heat, who eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs in 2011 and 2012.
Butler knocked in a floater and a free throw to put the Heat up, 116-114, with 12 seconds left in the extra period before Adebayo sealed it with a block on Tatum at the rim with 2.5 ticks remaining.
“Bam’s a tremendous defender so we’re gonna have to figure out again better ways to attack,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
The Heat – who were still trailing in double figures in the 4th quarter, 72-85 – stormed back with Tyler Herro also coming through the clutch.
“I think my teammates have the most faith in me to make a basket or to make the right pass out of that. And I just came with a bucket,” said Butler.
Miami is seeking to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since a four-year run of consecutive appearances during the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh era ended in 2014.
Tatum also had 14 rebounds and 5 assists, Marcus Smart tallied 26 points and Jaylen Brown delivered 17 for the Celtics, who are in the league semifinals for the third time in 4 years.
Coming from a 12-3 run late in the 3rd period, the Celtics opened the 4th quarter clinging to an 83-71 advantage.
A Herro three-pointer from top of the key snipped the Celtics lead to two, 105-103, with 1.02 to go in the 4th.
“We gotta play better in transition defense. Really standouts, that Herro three with a minute left was a killer,” said Stevens.
The Heat, who had their worst opening quarter in the playoffs with only 27% shooting from the field, erupted to 68% in the 2nd frame.
Dragic sparked a 15-4 run to erase the Celtics 12-point cushion in the 2nd quarter.
The Heat led by as many as 6 points in the quarter but the Celtics were able to tie the game with 55 a piece before halftime after a Jaylen Brown triple.
It was the Celtics second overtime loss in their last 3 games. – with a report from Aeron Gabriel Pantig/Rappler.com