The Miami Heat are one game away from a sweep after a 124-115 Game 3 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, but he got plenty of help from his teammates, four of whom had at least 20 points, while the team shot 13-of-33 from three-point range. The squad jumped out to a 74-56 lead at halftime, the highest-scoring playoff half in Miami history.
It was a much closer second half as Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers back into contention, cutting the margin down to two several times in the fourth quarter.
Butler and Bam Adebayo were still able to lift the Heat to victory with clutch plays in the final moments.
Despite the turbulent ending, the No. 5 seed did enough to go up 3-0 in the first-round series.
Indiana hasn't been able to overcome the absence of Domantas Sabonis (foot) on either side of the court, suffering a third straight loss to begin the playoffs. The Pacers are now one game away from being swept in the first round for the second straight season.
Jimmy Butler, SF, MIA: 27 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals
Goran Dragic, PG, MIA: 24 points, 6 assists, 3 steals
Tyler Herro, SG, MIA: 20 points, 3 rebounds
Malcolm Brogdon, PG, IND: 34 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds
Victor Oladipo, SG, IND: 20 points, 4 rebounds
T.J. Warren, SF, IND: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals
Role Players Help Miami Early, Stars Take Over Late
The Heat had two All-Stars this season in Butler and Adebayo, but it was the rest of the lineup that starred in this game.
The outside shooting was especially impressive early on, with Miami making seven of its first 10 three-point attempts and finishing 11-of-20 from three in the first half.
After the Heat went 18-of-35 in Game 2, the day off didn't seem to slow them down at all.
Goran Dragic was especially impressive, scoring 18 in the first half before finishing with 24.
Shooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson continued their production with a combined 35 points on 19 total shots. Herro made an impact as soon as he stepped on the court:
The role players helped Miami jump out to an 18-point lead at the half despite only 19 combined points from Butler and Adebayo.
Though the second-half comeback from Indiana wasn't ideal, the team's best players did their jobs down the stretch to ensure a win for the Heat.
Adebayo earned some big rebounds in the final two minutes, while Butler came through on the defensive end. They each also made key free throws to keep the team ahead.
If Miami's less-heralded players can produce at high levels and the stars do the little things needed to win, this could be a scary opponent for the rest of the playoffs.
Pacers Show Resolve in 2nd-Half Effort
The first half of this game provided few positives for the Pacers, which was especially terrible on the defensive end:
It led to an 18-point deficit at halftime with few players besides Victor Oladipo appearing ready to play.
Things changed in the second half with the Pacers focusing defensively and preventing the types of easy shots that led to the offensive explosion in the first half for Miami:
Indiana began the third quarter on a 12-2 run with some impressive plays that put the team right back in the game:
Brogdon was especially impressive, probing the defense while filling up the stat sheet. He finished three rebounds shy of a triple-double, something he hasn't done since his rookie season.
Depth remains an issue with Sabonis unavailable, and the Pacers finished Saturday with just 14 bench points. The trio of Brogdon, Oladipo and T.J. Warren provided plenty of production, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback.
Indiana showed the type of effort needed to compete in this series, but the challenge will be doing it for all 48 minutes in Game 4.
The teams will return to action for an important Game 4 on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET.