Sport Comeback Heat do it again, rally past Celtics for 2-0 lead
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Down by 14 in Game 1, the Miami Heat found a way.
Down by 17 in Game 2, they did it again Thursday night. And after making the Boston Celtics lose another big lead on the court - as well as their cool in the postgame locker room - the unheralded Heat are two wins away from the NBA Finals.
How the unkillable Heat have put the Celtics on the ropes
The Boston Celtics came into the Eastern Conference finals as betting favorites against the Miami Heat. They led by 14 points in the fourth quarter of Game 1, and by as many as 17 in the first half of Game 2. They were ahead by five points in the final five minutes of both games - but they trail the series 2-0. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra credited his team's disposition more than its schemes after Miami's 106-101 Game 2 win, and it's true the HeatHeat coach Erik Spoelstra credited his team's disposition more than its schemes after Miami's 106-101 Game 2 win, and it's true the Heat have proven unflappable, resilient, and nearly impossible to put away.
Goran Dragic scored 25 points, Bam Adebayo led a big third-quarter rally to finish with 21, and the Heat pulled off another comeback to beat the Celtics 106-101 and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
''We got grit,'' Adebayo said. ''That's about all I can tell you. We got grit, man.''
Duncan Robinson scored 18 points, Jimmy Butler had 14, Jae Crowder 12 and Tyler Herro 11. The Heat were down by 17 in the second quarter and trailed by 13 at halftime.
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Here are three things to watch for Saturday night as the Celtics take on the Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Can the Celtics contain the Heat’s second punch?The result of this series will depend on if the Celtics can contain the inevitable second punch from Miami. Boston held a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Game 1, only to lose in overtime. In Game 2, they led by 17 in the first half before being outscored by 20 in the third quarter.Miami started slow in both games during the series, something that wasn’t the case in the Eastern Conference semifinals versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
They had been 0-21 in playoff games when trailing by at least that many at intermission. They're 1-21 now, and two wins away from their first NBA Finals since 2014 - and the team said the 17-point comeback matched the biggest in Heat postseason history.
''We like to make it hard on ourselves,'' Butler said. ''We like being down double-digits and being the comeback kids.''
Kemba Walker had 23 points for Boston, which got 21 apiece from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown missed a corner 3 that would have tied it with 15 seconds left, and Butler sealed it with two free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining.
The Celtics had a loud, animated conversation in their locker room postgame, the walls unable to hold in the sound. They tried to downplay whatever was happening afterward.
Opinion: Celtics reveal who they really are in Game 3 win over Heat
After falling in an 0-2 hole amid frustration and emotional outbursts, the Celtics' toughness revealed itself in a Game 3 win over the Heat.Even though a loss would have been problematic, Stevens said, "It was more about what are we going to show ourselves to be.
''It was nothing,'' Walker said. ''It was nothing.''
Added Tatum: ''We're frustrated. But that's team sports. Not supposed to be happy we're down 0-2. But that's nothing out of the ordinary. Just talking about the game. It's cool.''
Dragic - playing on the third anniversary of his fondest basketball moment, that being when he led Slovenia to the EuroBasket Championship - scored nine points in the fourth quarter.
''Feels exactly the same,'' Dragic said, when asked to compare Slovenia's golden moment to the Heat win Thursday. ''A great day.''
The Heat took a 2-0 series lead for the 11th time in coach Erik Spoelstra's tenure. They've won all previous 10 instances.
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Game 3 is Saturday.
The Heat got in big trouble in the series opener by scoring 18 points in the first quarter and 16 points in the third. In Game 2, another 18-point quarter - the second - sent Boston into the half up comfortably, 60-47.
And then it all changed.
Miami outscored Boston 37-17 in the third quarter, with Adebayo - the defensive hero of Game 1 - outshooting and nearly outscoring the Celtics by himself. Boston went 4 for 12 from the floor in the quarter, Adebayo went 7 for 8 on his way to a 15-point period and the Heat led 84-77 when it was over.
''We pulled apart and we didn't play well,'' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ''And they did a good job. We're not beating this team if we're not completely connected on both ends of the court. So, got to get back to being that, which we've been at times. But right now, they're a better team. We're going to have to fight to get back in this series.''
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They showed some fight in the fourth. The Celtics went on a 15-2 run, silencing the Heat for nearly seven minutes and going up 94-89 on a 3-pointer by Walker with 4:25 left.
That only set the stage for another Heat rally: Miami finished the game on a 17-7 run.
''Team effort,'' Butler said.
Heat: Spoelstra's 81st career playoff win ties him for eighth all-time with K.C. Jones. ... Miami's 20-point differential in the third quarter was a Heat record for that quarter in the playoffs, and the sixth time in Heat playoff history they outscored an opponent by at least 20 in any quarter. ... Robinson, who had been 2 for 9 on 3's in his last two games, made four in the first quarter and six in the game. ... Andre Iguodala couldn't play after halftime with back tightness.
Celtics: Gordon Hayward (ankle) remained out. ... Enes Kanter and Romeo Langford got first-quarter minutes after not playing in Game 1, but Langford left after about a minute with an adductor strain. Kanter had nine points and six rebounds in eight first-half minutes. ... Walker came in in a 5-for-35 slump from 3-point land, and went 4 for 11 Thursday.
3'S ARE WILD
Crowder's 3-pointer with 5:43 left in the third quarter was - fittingly - the 33,333rd in NBA playoff history.
There will be a break between Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is Saturday; Game 4 won't be until Wednesday.
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Roughly 100 students and alumni from more than 60 historically black colleges and universities got to watch (through the video screens) as part of the NBA's HBCU Virtual Fan Night. They also held a question-and-answer session with Philadelphia forward and Norfolk State University alumnus Kyle O'Quinn at halftime.
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Back to the Finals: Heat oust Celtics, move to title series .
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) It was exactly one year ago Sunday when Jimmy Butler walked into the Miami Heat practice gym, took a seat on a makeshift stage and said he wanted to be part of the team's next title run.He'll have that chance.