Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo Lift Heat to Thrilling Game 1 OT Win over Celtics

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2020

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler, center, handles the ball as Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, rear, and Daniel Theis (27) defend during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler may wake up before 4 a.m. every morning, but he thrives late.

The Miami Heat leading man added more clutch moments to his resume Tuesday, hitting a driving layup and ensuing free throw on the and-1 with just 12 seconds remaining in overtime to help give Miami a 117-114 win.

Bam Adebayo borrowed a bit of Butler's clutch gene, stuffing a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt with 3.7 seconds remaining to secure the win. Tatum had one last chance to send the game to double overtime after Adebayo made one of two free throws, but his miracle heave just missed.

Butler also hit a crucial three-pointer with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation to give Miami a one-point lead, though a Heat foul on the inbound pass gave the Boston Celtics a free-throw attempt. That tied the game before Tatum missed a contested three-point effort as time expired to send the game to overtime.

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Boston's series against Miami is an outlier in NBA history given their seeding coming into the postseason. It's just the fourth time since 1984 that both the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds failed to reach the conference finals, per ESPN Stats & Info, and the first time it's happened in the Eastern Conference.

Neither team played like an upstart Tuesday, however, with a thrilling opening salvo in what promises to be a knock-down, drag-out series.


Key Stats

Goran Dragic, MIA: 29 points, seven rebounds

Jae Crowder, MIA: 22 points, 5-of-9 from three

Jimmy Butler, MIA: 20 points, five rebounds, five assists

Bam Adebayo, MIA: 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds, two blocks, one steal

Jayson Tatum, BOS: 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks

Marcus Smart, BOS: 26 points, 6-of-13 from three

Jaylen Brown, BOS: 17 points

Kemba Walker, BOS: 19 points, 6-of-19 from the field


Marcus Smart Is the New Kemba Walker

There was some sort of Freaky Friday skill-set switch that happened between Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker on the offensive end in Game 1.

While Smart was en fuego, carrying an unexpectedly large offensive burden for the Celtics on Tuesday, Walker's struggles in this postseason continued. It was a bit surreal seeing Smart attempt so many three-pointers and continue to drain them.

It was more surreal watching Walker struggle for a third consecutive game. He's now 13-of-46 from the field in his past three outings, a brutal stretch. Boston needs Walker to regain his scoring touch, and soon.

Smart may have made up for it Tuesday, but history would suggest his hot hand will cool off.


Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder Carried Miami's Offense Early On

Both Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder were excellent Tuesday, but the Heat might be in some trouble against the Celtics if that pairing remains Miami's top scorers.

Dragic continues to be a savvy veteran presence for the Heat, attacking the basket, setting up his teammates and hitting timely perimeter shots.

And Crowder isn't afraid to jack up threes. They have been falling in these playoffs, however, so he'll keep on shooting.

Those two carried the offense until Butler could provide the heroics late in the game. Butler remains the closer. Players like Dragic, Crowder and the rest of the Heat's supporting cast just need to keep it close.


What's Next?

Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.