The Miami Heat squandered a 26-point lead in Game 3, but held off a fourth-quarter rally form the Boston Celtics to win 109-103 thanks to a huge game from Bam Adebayo. The Heat regained the series lead 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics opened Game 4 as a -7 favorite at home.
DraftKings updated their conference finals markets, and the Celtics and Heat are both -110 odds to win the series.
The Celtics are +285 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship, but the Heat are just +370 odds. Both are trailing the consensus favorite Golden State Warriors at -125 odds to win the title.
Adebayo Emerges from Deep Slumber
The Heat jumped out to a 21-point lead in the first quarter, and led as many as 26 points before the Celtics finally countered late in the second quarter. Jimmy Butler scored eight points in 20 minutes in the first half, but lacked his usual explosiveness. The team made a command decision to rest Butler the remainder of the game due to a swollen knee.
“At halftime, really, the trainers made the call,” said head coach Erik Spoelstra. “Just feel like we’ve been in this situation a lot with a few of our guys. We almost have to restrain them. We get it, and we love it about them, how they are wired. But we also don’t want to be irresponsible.”
Without Butler in the second half, the Heat almost blew the lead. However, Adebayo sizzled for the Heat with 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals. He became the calming force during a frantic fourth quarter when the wheels nearly fell off the bus for the Heat and they blew a double-digit lead.
“They beat us like we stole something in Game 2,” said Adebayo. “So that woke a fire up in all of us.”
Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup for the first time in four games. He scored 11 points but helped ice the game with a huge steal on an inbound pass.
“Something about this team is just that we have guys that are hard workers,” said Lowry. “Udonis Haslem always says we all got it the hard way, all of us. We all found ways to make this our living and found ways to do our job at a high level and to be here and to stay. That’s big for us.”
40 from Brown Not Enough
PJ Tucker was a game-time decision with a knee injury, yet suited up for the Miami Heat in Game 3, which was bad news for Jayson Tatum and the Celtics. Tatum scored just 10 points on 1-for-7 shooting from 3-point range. Tucker smothered Tatum on every possession, the Celtics had to rely on Jaylen Brown to provide the bulk of their offense.
Brown stepped up with 40 points and nine assists. He shot 14-for-20 shooting from the floor, including a perfect 11-for-11 from inside the arc. His only missed shots were from deep.
Al Horford added 16 points and 14 rebounds in 42 minutes. The veteran saw a ton of court time because Robert Williams III was a late-minute scratch.
The Celtics fell behind from the get-go and never recovered in what everyone thought was one of the worst-officiated games in the postseason. Regardless of awful officiating, the Celtics shot themselves in the foot when they committed 24 turnovers and allowed the Heat to steal the ball 19 times.
“They were just like a wounded animal,” said Horford. “They came out fighting. For whatever reason, we just didn’t have that same sense of urgency.”
“Honestly, I’ve got to play better,” said Tatum. “I feel like I left the guys hanging tonight. That’s on me.”
The Celtics finally came to life in the fourth quarter, but their comeback was too little and too late.
“We fought back and got it to a one-point game,” said head coach Ime Udoka. “And made some mistakes and more turnovers.”
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.