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BOSTON — Still angry over a blowout loss in Miami that cost them a home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat jumped to a 25-point, first-half lead over the Boston Celtics in Game 3.
Then Bam Adebayo made sure it was enough—just barely—to give Miami a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Heat center scored 31 points with 10 rebounds, filling a void left by injured All-Star Jimmy Butler and leading Miami to a 109-103 victory Sunday (PH time). Adebayo also had six assists and four of the Heat’s franchise postseason record 19 steals.
The Celtics never led, but they cut a 62-37 deficit to one point, 93-92, with 2:40 to play on a 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown, who finished with 40 points. Max Strus answered with a three-pointer and then Adebayo bounced off defender Al Horford and made a basket at the shot clock buzzer to give Miami a six-point cushion.
The Celtics never came any closer.
Game 4 is Tuesday (PH time) in Boston.
In a bruising game that saw Butler and Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart leave with injuries — though both Celtics returned — Kyle Lowry came back from a four-game absence and scored 11 with six assists for the Heat. P.J. Tucker — like Lowry, a game-time decision — scored 17 for Miami.
Horford scored 20 points with 14 rebounds, and Smart scored 16. Tatum had 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting; he also had six turnovers, and Brown committed seven of Boston’s 2022 playoff-high 24 turnovers.
After losing Game 2 at home by 25 points, the Heat opened a 62-37 lead with under three minutes left in the second quarter. Then Boston scored the last 10 points of the half to claw its way back into the game.
Miami still led by 15, 87-72, after three, and made it a 17-point game on Adebayo’s basket to start the fourth. But the Celtics ran off the next nine points to get within single digits for the first time since the first three minutes of the game. Trailing 93-80, the Celtics scored 12 straight points — 10 by Brown — to make it a one-point game with 2:40 left.
Miami scored the next seven points. (AP)