By Arnie Leshin
This time, the Boston Celtics weren’t giving away their leads, and with that, they still trail the Miami Heat 2-1 in games, but winning game three, 117-106, Saturday night, brought new life to the 3rd-seeded Celts in the Eastern Conference finals of the restarted shortened National Basketball Association season playoffs.
In back-to-back losses, Boston surrendered numerous leads, some as much as 17 points, and both times ahead at halftime only to have the 5th-seeded Heat rally to take both games. Now they are off until game four to be played Wednesday.
The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum’s 25 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists, while t teammate Jaylen Brown had the team-high 26 points and added seven boards and five assists. He shot 11-for-17 from the floor and played 43 minutes. Tatum played two less minutes, as did Kemba Walker, who added 21 points that included 4-of-8 from the 3. Marcus Smart contributed 20 points.
As a team, Boston made good on 9-of-26 3s, had more boards, 50-42, more assists, 27-21, more blocks, 8-3, but had more turnovers, 14-13, made 86.7 percent from the foul line and 48.2 from the field.
“This time, we responded every time they went on a run,” Brown said. “In the final minutes, we remained ahead and just added to our lead. It was a good team effort.”
As for Miami, Bam Adebayo took charge with the game highs 27 points and 16 boards. He was 10-for-14 from the floor. Teammate Goran Dragic added 11 points and a team-high five assists. Tyler Herro was good for 22 points, Jimmy Butler scored 17, Duncan Robinson contributed 13, and Jae Crowder 10. The Heat was way off from the 3, making good on only 12-of-44.
Today, the Western Conference plays game two of its best-of-seven finals matching the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakes versus the 3rd-seeded Denver Nuggets, with the Lakers winning game one