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Celtics top Heat 117-106, cut East finals deficit to 2-1

Sun Sep 20 12:19am ET
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer


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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) dunks the ball between Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo, left, and Duncan Robinson, right, during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr. (5) and Tyler Herro (14) defend as Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) attempts a shot during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates dunking in front of Miami Heat's Kendrick Nunn, rear, during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) attempts a shot as Miami Heat's Tyler Herro (14) defends during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) goes up for a shot between Boston Celtics' Grant Williams (12), Jaylen Brown, bottom, and Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, center, is forced to pass the ball from beneath the basket as Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36), Gordon Hayward (20) and Kemba Walker, center right, defend during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown (7) looks on as Marcus Smart, center, struggles to maintain control of the ball against Miami Heat's Duncan Robinson, left, and Jimmy Butler (22) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Referee Eric Lewis (42) looks on as Miami Heat's Jae Crowder (99) smiles after fouling the Boston Celtics on a shot attempt during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat's Jae Crowder gestures after being charged with a foul on a shot attempt by the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat's Jae Crowder (99) blocks a shot attempt by Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown (7) as Bam Adebayo (13) looks on during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown, left, and Miami Heat's Jae Crowder (99) exchange words as Kemba Walker (8) attempts to calm the situation during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Getting big leads has been relatively easy for the Boston Celtics in these Eastern Conference finals.

This time, they also found a way to finish the job.

And just like that, the East title series got a whole lot closer.

Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum added 25 and the Celtics got right back into the East finals with a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 on Saturday night. Kemba Walker added 21 to help Boston pull to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

''There's some great guys in that locker room,'' Brown said. ''A lot of emotion, a lot of passion, but we're a family and we're here for each other at the end of the day. We exemplified that when we came out together ... we kept our will high and we persevered to win this game.''

Marcus Smart scored 20 points for Boston, going 9 for 9 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. The Celtics - who also got 14 rebounds and eight assists from Tatum - outscored Miami 60-36 inside the paint, led by as many as 20 and never trailed.

The Celtics, who were angry in their postgame locker room after Game 2, were obviously far happier Saturday after holding Miami to 39% shooting.

''We have great competitive spirit and we showed it tonight,'' Walker said.

Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat, who fell for just the second time in 12 games in these playoffs. Tyler Herro scored 22 points, Jimmy Butler had 17 and Duncan Robinson 13.

''We're not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth we just try to turn it on,'' Adebayo said. ''It's not like that. We are not that type of team. We've got to play with detail.''

The Heat rallied from 14 points down to win Game 1 in overtime, 17 points down to win Game 2, but never caught up Saturday - though they put together a late run to make matters interesting.

They got within eight on a 3-pointer by Robinson with 1:12 left, setting the tone for the Celtics to scramble at the end. Brown committed a flagrant foul nine seconds later, and Robinson made one of two free throws to cut Boston's lead to 109-102.

Adebayo scored on the ensuing possession to get Miami within five and cap a 24-9 run, but the Heat got no closer.

''This is the conference finals, playing against a really good team,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''You cannot lack in the areas of toughness, physicality, detail, force. They won all of those battles plus the easy transition ones.''

Herro had 16 points in the second quarter alone to keep Miami close, the last of those 16 coming on a 3-pointer with 3:22 left before halftime to cut Boston's lead to 51-48.

That's when the Celtics started to run away.

Boston got three consecutive fast-break scores in a span of 48 seconds to push its lead back to 10, and after a late 3-pointer by Walker it was 63-50 at the break.

And when Miami tried another comeback in the third, Boston again had a late-in-the-quarter answer.

The Heat went on an 11-1 run to get to 82-73 on a layup by Herro with 1:08 left in the third, and Boston answered with the next seven points - needing just 32.9 seconds to get them.

''We did some good things tonight to answer their runs, most of the time,'' Stevens said.

Goran Dragic had 11 for Miami and Jae Crowder finished with 10. The Heat were 12 for 44 from 3-point range.

''We didn't play hard enough,'' Butler said. ''I think we didn't do anything that we said that we were going to do.''

TIP-INS

Celtics: This is the 124th series in Boston playoff history, and the Celtics have trailed 3-0 in only seven of them. ... Brown and Tatum now have eight games each of at least 20 points so far in these playoffs. ... Gordon Hayward made his return after missing a month with a sprained right ankle, scoring six points in 31 minutes.

Heat: Even with the loss, Miami matched the best 12-game start to any postseason in team history - now 10-2. The Heat also started postseasons that way in 2005, 2012 and 2013. ... Miami never led, marking the first time that happened in the team's last 70 games. The only other instance of that this season for the Heat was Nov. 23 against Philadelphia.

ROAD, SWEET ROAD

Games in the bubble still count toward ''home'' and ''road'' records. The road-designated team has won the last 12 games in which Boston has played - and in the playoffs, road teams are now 39-31. That ties the NBA record for road wins in any postseason; teams were 39-50 on the road in the 2014 playoffs. The road winning percentage this postseason (.557 right now) would also be an NBA record; the current mark is .519, set in 1966 when road teams went 14-13.

RARE BREAK

Partly to allow the Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets to catch up, the Heat and Celtics won't play Game 4 until Wednesday. Game 2 of Lakers-Nuggets is Sunday, followed by Game 3 on Tuesday. From there, both series will have an every-other-day format.

Player Notes
Andre Drummond Oct 25 12:10pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond doesn't sound like he'll be signing a long term deal with the organization anytime soon. There was reportedly mutual interest in June, but it seems that the two sides aren't close anymore. There is a good chance Drummond plays out his final year in Cleveland and hits free agency in 2021. His market value hasn't been great, but he'll have extra motivation this season. Tristan Thompson is expected to sign elsewhere, so Drummond's value could be on the rise.

Daniel Theis Oct 25 12:00pm ET

Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (knee) underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies in his left knee. The team has not released an official timetable for Theis, but it was a fairly minor procedure. He is fully expected to be ready in time for training camp. Last season, Theis had some low-end value, but he probably won't be a favorable target on draft day in most formats. It really depends on how the Celtics decide to use Robert Williams going forward.

John Collins Oct 25 12:00pm ET

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins mentioned that he is shifting his focus to improving his playmaking ability this offseason. "The next level is to start getting others involved and create more shots for myself or have the ability to do different things," Collins said. Last season, Collins increased both his block rate and his percentage from beyond the arc. Collins could end up being the whole package if he's able to improve his playmaking ability. He could be quickly climbing up draft boards.

Goran Dragic Oct 11 7:00pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) was doubtful for Sunday's NBA Finals Game 6 against the Lakers, but intends to play and is listed as active. Playing with a plantar fascia tear seems like a bad idea, but Dragic reportedly has been told he won't reinjure himself by playing. Dragic won't be near 100 percent and will likely be on a minutes limit, so you shouldn't give him heavy consideration for your DFS lineups. Kendrick Nunn will likely see fewer minutes with Dragic playing, though there's also the possibility that Dragic tries to play and the pain is too much. It's a complicated situation in a must-win Game 6.

Goran Dragic Oct 11 12:30pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dragic has been listed as doubtful each game since suffering the injury in Game 1. It sounds like Dragic will test out his foot pregame, but it's highly unlikely that he suits up here. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn will gain the most fantasy value from the absence of Dragic. Herro is the better option between the two.

Anthony Davis Oct 11 12:30pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis (heel) is listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 contest against the Miami Heat. However, Davis mentioned on Saturday that he'd be fine for Sunday's contest. He is fully expected to play through the issue and should see his normal workload. LeBron James (groin) and Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable as well, but are expected to take the court on Sunday. The Lakers are a little banged up, but will play through the pain.

Danny Green Oct 11 12:20pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (groin) and guard Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 against the Miami Heat. Both players have been listed as probable throughout the series, but continue to play. Green was limited earlier in the series, but played 24 minutes during Game 5. James and Green are expected to see a full workload here.

Kevon Looney Oct 6 9:10pm ET

Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney is expected to have a bigger role on the team next season. Head coach Steve Kerr mentioned that Looney is looking at 20-25 minutes per game for the 2020-2021 campaign. That is a fairly significant increase, but won't make a huge impact on his fantasy value. Looney has been unable to stay healthy and isn't a great option in Golden State. He could have deep league value, but probably not worth a look in 12-team leagues on draft day.

Lauri Markkanen Oct 6 9:00pm ET

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is hopeful that he can prove the doubters wrong next season. "My expectations are even higher than ever now, just going back to my fourth year and performing at a high level," said Markkanen. Former head coach Jim Boylen failed to get much out of his young core during his time in Chicago. It sounds like Markkanen is already hitting it off with new head coach Billy Donovan. Markkanen has plenty of talent and should have a significant role on the team going forward. Fantasy owners could look at Markkanen as a sleeper player for next season.

Aron Baynes Oct 6 8:50pm ET

Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes could be headed elsewhere this offseason. The veteran was non-committal when asked about his future with the team. I loved my time in Phoenix, Baynes said. I knew what it was coming in here and I was able to go out there and take advantage of the role that was given to me throughout a number of different situations." Baynes will hit free agency after posting career highs in multiple categories. He could very well land a significant role on another organization. His fantasy value will be dependent on where he signs in free agency.

Goran Dragic Oct 6 8:40pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) won't suit up for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He tried to get up some shots pregame, but it was too painful. It doesn't look good for Dragic's chances of playing in this series, but consider him questionable for Game 5. Tyler Herro is expected to join the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn gets more minutes as well. Herro is the better fantasy option between the two.

Bam Adebayo Oct 6 8:40pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is officially back in the starting five for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been sidelined since Game 1, so this is a big lift for Miami. It's unclear whether or not Adebayo will be limited, which makes him a risky DFS option. Kelly Olynyk will see his minutes and playing time decrease here. Meyers Leonard might fall out of the rotation completely.

Bam Adebayo Oct 6 5:40pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is planning to make his return for Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers on Tuesday night, according to sources. Adebayo missed the previous two games of the series due to a neck strain that he suffered in Game 1, forcing the 23-year-old to exit during the second half of the contest. Adebayo's potential return to the lineup will be encouraging news for the Heat, who may be forced to play without guard Goran Dragic (foot) for the remainder of the series as he is without a timetable for a potential return. Adebayo will serve as a solid DFS option for Tuesday's game if he ends up making his return.

Danny Green Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (hip) was limited during the Game 2 victory over the Miami Heat. He took a hard fall during the second quarter and appeared to have injured his hip. J.R. Smith saw a few minutes after Green checked out, but it doesn't sound like Green will miss time. However, Green was awful during Game 2, so fantasy owners should not expect a bounce back performance out of him.

Bam Adebayo Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He was unable to play in Game 2 due to a neck sprain. Meyers Leonard drew the start, but only played nine minutes. Kelly Olynyk ended up benefiting the most by dropping 24 points in 37 minutes of play. He's looking like a solid DFS option, assuming Adebayo is sidelined again.

Goran Dragic Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He suffered a left plantar fascia tear and the Heat are not optimistic that Dragic will be able to suit up. Tyler Herro should remain in the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn will see more minutes coming his way. Both players could be interesting DFS options without Dragic on the court.

Jimmy Butler Oct 2 6:30pm ET

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (ankle) will suit up for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. He sprained his left ankle during the first half of Game 1 on Wednesday. It was going to take a lot to keep Butler off the court for this game. Sadly, they will be without Goran Dragic (foot) and Bam Adebayo (neck) on Friday. Butler is going to be asked to do just about everything on offense for Miami.

Bam Adebayo Oct 2 6:30pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a huge blow to the Heat who are already without Goran Dragic (foot) for this game. Kelly Olynyk, Derrick Jones, and Meyers Leonard are expected to see more playing time on Friday. Jae Crowder could see more action as well, but it'll be hard to fill the void left by Adebayo. None of these players are great DFS options. Jimmy Butler is going to be asked to carry the load on offense.

Goran Dragic Oct 2 6:20pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is still dealing with a foot issue that he suffered during the first game of the series. Kendrick Nunn is expected to join the starting five, while Tyler Herro gets more minutes as well. Both sound like appealing DFS options with the Heat roster banged up.

Goran Dragic Oct 1 12:10pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) could be in danger of missing Game 2 versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The veteran guard suffered a torn plantar fascia during the first half of Wednesday's contest. The team is going to continue to evaluate Dragic before deciding what to do. It sounds like his status for Friday's game is doubtful, but we'll wait and see. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn would see a boost in fantasy value, assuming Dragic is out.