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Butler, Dragic lead Heat past Celtics 106-101

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Bam Adebayo added 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With four minutes and 35 seconds left in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Kemba Walker sunk a 3-pointer to put Boston up 94-89. Miami started the fourth quarter up seven, but shot just 2-for-10 to open the period and let the Celtics regain control.

But then Jimmy Butler found Bam Adebayo down low for a nice hook shot. On Boston’s ensuing possession, Butler poked the ball away and saved it from going out of bounds. Duncan Robinson grabbed it and found a streaking Butler for a dunk.

With three minutes to go, Butler drove to the basket and converted on a layup to tie the game. And then with 1:42 left, Goran Dragic momentarily lost the ball but recovered and hit a 3-pointer over center Daniel Theis, giving Miami a 100-95 lead.

On Boston’s subsequent possession, Butler stole the ball on a Boston in-bounds pass and found Jae Crowder for an easy layup. And with Miami up 106-101 with 7.4 seconds left, Butler deflected an attempted lob pass. Adebayo gained control of the ball and let the clock run out.

Miami improved to an incredible 10-1 in their playoff run and moved to just within two wins of reaching the Finals. The Heat fell down by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, but found Adebayo rolling to the rim again and again in the third period. Miami dominated the third 37-17. And in the fourth, Butler made big plays on both ends of the floor to will the Heat to victory.

Dragic again led Miami in scoring, going for 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and five assists. Aside from that huge 3-pointer, the 2018 All-Star made a huge jumper with 57.1 left to go that put the Heat up 104-98. At age 34 and in the playoffs, Dragic is playing better than the All-NBA Third Team player Miami traded for in 2015.

Butler and Adebayo both became more aggressive after passing up some point-blank attempts and missing others in the first half. Adebayo finished with 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, 10 rebounds and four assists. Butler added 14 points and went 6-for-6 from the foul line.

Miami also got a good game from Duncan Robinson, who made four 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished 6-of-12 overall from long-range distance. Robinson has been uneven in this playoff run, but he showed his value tonight. Many times when Adebayo found an open lane to the rim, Robinson’s presence on the 3-point line kept a help defender from coming over.

In a surprise move, Erik Spoelstra benched Kendrick Nunn and Andre Iguodala for the entire second half. Instead, Spoelstra played Derrick Jones Jr. for eight second-half minutes to anchor a zone defense. And though the Celtics got some second-chance opportunities out of the zone, it took Boston out of their offensive rhythm.

Crowder added 12 points, including a huge four-point play in the third quarter. Tyler Herro scored 11 points and added nine rebounds and five assists.

Game 3 is Saturday at 8:30 p.m.