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Comeback Heat do it again, rally past Celtics for 2-0 lead

Thu Sep 17 11:34pm ET
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) goes up for a shot over Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, bottom, during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) celebrates after sinking a basket against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) goes up for a shot as Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr., left, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Tyler Herro (14) defend during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Celtics' Grant Williams, right, looks on at the play. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens gestures as he watches play against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, front, goes up for a shot as Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr., left, and Tyler Herro, right, defend during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) loses control of the ball as he works against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, bottom, and Jaylen Brown (7) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) leaps to make a pass over Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8), Brad Wanamaker (9) and Jayson Tatum (0) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures as he watches play against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) takes a shot between Miami Heat's Kelly Olynyk (9) and Tyler Herro (14) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


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.

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.

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.

''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.

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.''

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.

TIP-INS

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.

SCHEDULE UPDATE

There will be a break between Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is Saturday; Game 4 won't be until Wednesday.

HBCU NIGHT

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.

Player Notes
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.

Bam Adebayo Oct 1 11:50am ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (shoulder) suffered an injury and was unable to return during Game 1 versus the Los Angeles Lakers. He was only able to play 21 minutes before suffering a left shoulder strain. The X-rays were negative, which is good news. However, the team might have Adebayo undergo an MRI as well. It's unclear if he'll be able to suit up for Game 2 on Friday. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard would likely gain significant fantasy value if Adebayo sits out.

Jimmy Butler Oct 1 11:40am ET

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (ankle) suffered an injury during the Game 1 matchup versus the Los Angeles Lakers. He sprained his left ankle during the first half of the game, but was able to play through the issue. Butler is currently listed as questionable for Game 2, but it would be shocking if he didn't play. There should be more updates on his status before the game on Friday. Fantasy owners should feel confident that Butler will be on the court for Game 2.

Jayson Tatum Oct 1 11:30am ET

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is reportedly looking to sign a max contract extension this offseason. Celtics team president Danny Ainge said that the organization is confident that they will come to terms on a contract. The two sides won't be able to talk right away due to league rules, but Ainge believes they will be able to lock up Tatum. The All-Star forward appears happy in Boston, so the two sides should be able to come to an agreement. Tatum is basically a lock for the first round in every fantasy format.