Bam Adebayo, Heat Beat Kemba Walker, Celtics as Jimmy Butler Sits with Injury

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2020

Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo (13) reacts after scoring and getting fouled against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

No Jimmy Butler, no problem.

Bam Adebayo had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Goran Dragic added 20 off the bench, leading the Miami Heat to a 112-106 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Heat were forced to play without Butler, who sat with right ankle soreness on the second night of a back-to-back.

The win moves the Heat to within 1.5 games of overtaking Boston for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami also kept its one-game lead for the fourth seed over the Indiana Pacers, who were victorious earlier Tuesday.

Jayson Tatum had a team-high 23 points as one of six Celtics in double figures.

     

Notable Stats

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Celtics

F Jayson Tatum: 23 PTS (6-11 FG), 7 REB

F Jaylen Brown: 18 PTS (9-23 FG), 10 REB

G Kemba Walker: 15 PTS (4-9 FG), 4 AST

F Gordon Hayward: 15 PTS (5-13 FG), 7 REB, 3 AST

     

Heat

C Bam Adebayo: 21 PTS (5-12 FG), 12 REB

G Goran Dragic: 20 PTS (6-12 FG), 3 AST, 3 REB

G Duncan Robinson: 21 PTS (6-12 FG), 3 REB

F Kelly Olynyk: 15 PTS (4-11 FG), 8 AST, 6 REB

     

Celtics Need Kemba at 100 Percent for Playoffs

If the Celtics are going to make a deep playoff run, Cardiac Kemba can't be on life support. Walker's minutes have been restricted after he had discomfort in his injured knee after ramping up basketball action, and while he was strong in limited time his first two games, he was mostly ineffective when on the floor Tuesday.

Walker's biggest play of the game was a half-court heave at the end of the third quarter that cut the Celtics' deficit back to single digits. Otherwise, he was held in check—something the Celtics can't have happen once the postseason begins.

While Tatum has rightfully taken over as the Celtics' best player, Walker is their most important offensive piece. He's the guy head coach Brad Stevens trusts most to put the ball in his hands and score in one-on-one situations. If Walker is less than 100 percent once postseason play tips off later this month, the Celtics could be in danger in the first round.

Tatum is 22. Brown is 23. Walker is the veteran who is going to need to soar in high-profile moments despite having less playoff experience than either of his two younger teammates.

     

Bam Adebayo Is a Star

Just in case you haven't been paying attention.

In the second game of a bubble back-to-back, without Butler, it would have been excusable for the Heat to take the night off. Butler is their spiritual leader and best player, and there is no benefit between the 4-5 line when everyone is playing near Orlando, Florida.

Instead, Adebayo foisted the Heat on his back with his energy underneath and would have even had a stronger game if it weren't for his struggles at the free-throw line. The Celtics had no recourse for most of the game to do anything but just grab his arms underneath and send him to the line.

Adebayo has a legitimate case for third-team All-NBA center, and he proved why Tuesday.