Heat battle past Celtics to take series lead

Heat battle past Celtics to take series lead

Heat battle past Celtics to take series lead

Bam Adebayo delivered a 31-point masterpiece as the Miami Heat dug deep to defeat the Boston Celtics 109-103 on the road and take a crucial 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference finals series on May 21.

After an injury forced Miami talisman Jimmy Butler out of the game at half-time, Adebayo stepped up with a superb all-round display to hold off a ferocious Boston fightback at the Celtics’ TD Garden.

Adebayo, who had averaged just eight points a game in the first two fixtures of the best-of-seven series, finished with 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals in addition to his 31-point haul.

That helped Miami close out a thrilling battle which had seen the Celtics claw their way back from a whopping 26-point first-half deficit to get within one point with just under three minutes remaining.

“Those last couple of games, my team depended on me and I didn’t show up,” Adebayo said afterwards. “I took it upon myself to lock in and get the win.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra praised Adebayo’s readiness to fill the void created by Butler’s second-half absence.

“He did his version of what Jimmy does in doing what is needed in the game,” Spoelstra said of Adebayo.

“He was assertive in key moments. And it wasn’t just the scoring, he did so many things in terms of getting us organized, facilitating, defending against a team that presents a lot of challenges. He’s a winning player.

“He really is the heart and soul of our group... When Jimmy was out in the second half, he stabilized us because it got a bit gnarly out there.”

Boston’s Jaylen Brown produced a magnificent scoring performance with 40 points, but Miami’s P.J. Tucker successfully bottled up Celtics star Jayson Tatum to deprive the home team of a crucial offensive weapon.

Tatum finished with just 10 points from 3-of-14 shooting.