Heat burn Celtics again for 2-0 NBA series lead


Heat burn Celtics again for 2-0 NBA series lead

Saturday, September 19, 2020

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MIAMI, United States (AFP) — The Miami Heat turned it up in the second half, rallying again for a 106-101 victory over the Boston Celtics and a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals.

Trailing by 17 in the second quarter and down 60-47 at half-time, Miami thrashed the Celtics 37-17 in the third quarter and held on for the victory.

Bam Adebayo scored 15 of his 21 points in the Heats' blistering third quarter.

The Celtics, who let a big lead slip in a 117-114 game one overtime defeat on Tuesday, regained the lead in the fourth quarter and were up 94-89 with 4:25 left to play.

But the Heat chipped away with a hook shot from Adebayo and a steal and dunk by Jimmy Butler.

Goran Dragic followed up two free throws with a three-pointer over Boston big man Daniel Theis that put the Heat ahead 100-95 with 1:42 remaining, and Miami powered to the finishing line.

“We came here to these play-offs trying to win a championship,” Adebayo said. “We keep stacking these wins and hopefully we get to that point.

“Right now, 2-0, we've got to keep stacking those 'W's.”

Dragic finished with 25 points and Duncan Robinson added 18, all on three-pointers.

Adebayo added 10 rebounds and four assists while Jimmy Butler had 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals.

“We like to make it hard for ourselves,” Butler said of the Miami “comeback kids”.

In fact, the Heat got off to a brisk start, making five of their first six three-point attempts.

After a close first quarter the Celtics surged ahead in the second period, only for the Heat to make the needed adjustments at half-time.

“You get to the conference finals, it's not all about you,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Boston had a lot to say about how that first half was going. That was them putting us on our heels.”

Kemba Walker broke out of his scoring slump with 23 points for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum scored 21 apiece.

But Brown missed a three-pointer that would have tied it with 15 seconds to play, and 20 Celtics turnovers led to 26 Miami points.

“They outplayed us,” Walker said of the Heat's third-quarter surge. “It's really uncceptable on our behalf. We didn't continue to do the things that we did to get us that lead. I think we got kind of comfortable and those guys took advantage of it.

“They played hard — a lot harder than us. We fought our way back, but just too many mistakes.”

Celtics feel the heat

The Heat will try to take a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series in game three today in the NBA's quarantine bubble in Orlando.

The Celtics will go into that one knowing that no NBA team has rallied from a 0-3 deficit to win a series, and that might have contributed to tension in the locker room after the defeat.

“Guys were emotional after a hard game, hard loss,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said of the shouting that could be heard from Boston's locker room post-game.

Walker wouldn't be drawn on reports that Marcus Smart let fly before storming out.

“It was nothing,” Walker insisted, adding when pressed, “We'll be fine.”

Tatum said what happens in the locker room among teammates should stay there, and the Celtics will focus on finding a way to win game three.

“Two times now we've had double-digit leads and let go of the ropes,” Tatum said. “We've got to figure out why that keeps happening and just be prepared to win the next one.”

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