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Kelly Olynyk offers huge boost for Heat

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Olynyk has been the Heat’s second-best player in the Finals.

2020 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Jimmy Butler’s performance in Game 3 last night belongs right up there with Dwyane Wade’s Game 3 in 2006 in the pantheon of great Miami Heat Finals games. Operating without two of his offensive catalysts, Butler was the sole motor for the team.

But in order to pull off the improbable upset last night, Butler needed some help. The Los Angeles Lakers have keyed in on Duncan Robinson, and he shot just 3-for-10 from downtown. Tyler Herro shook off early struggles to score eight fourth-quarter points. Kelly Olynyk — who was out of the rotation for the last few games of the Eastern Conference Finals — followed up a strong Game 2 performance with another one Sunday night.

The Canadian product scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from downtown, outscoring Anthony Davis. Olynyk also drew an offensive foul on Davis midway through the second quarter, forcing Davis to the bench with three fouls. He hit two huge 3s in the third quarter. On a night when Herro, Robinson and Jae Crowder all struggled from beyond the arc, Olynyk’s shooting was vital.

Aside from the 3-point shooting, Olynyk made a couple nice rolls to the rim for layups. He made all four of his free-throw attempts. Without Bam Adebayo, Olynyk’s offensive contributions have been invaluable.

With just 2:45 left to go in Game 3, LeBron James drove the ball up-court in transition. Olynyk caught up to him and poked the ball away, forcing a turnover. At the time, the Heat held an eight-point lead. Taking away an opportunity for the Lakers to cut into the deficit that late in the game was huge.

Bam Adebayo has been upgraded to questionable for Game 4. If he’s able to play, it would provide a huge load off of Butler’s shoulders. But Olynyk’s contributions enabled Butler’s herculean performance to end with a win.