Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat shot out to a 26-point lead against the Celtics Saturday night and fought off a late Boston rally for a 109-103 win.
Adebayo, who only had 16 points combined in the first two games of the series, scored 31 points off a career-high 22 attempts.
The two-time All-Defensive player put up 12 points in the first quarter alone and shot over 65 percent from the field in addition to 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals, one block, and just one turnover in 41 minutes of play.
“Different mentality. They beat us like we stole something in Game 2. So, that woke a fire up in all of us,” said Adebayo during the postgame press conference.
“It’s playoff basketball, and you’ve got two really good teams going at it,” said Miami coach Eric Spoelstra. “He [Adebayo] was extremely assertive… He did so many things in terms of getting us organized; facilitating. Playing point guard for us at times. Running offense from the post… He’s a winning player. He really is the heart and soul of our group.”
The Heat finished the first quarter up 39-18, but the Celtics slowly fought back and had a chance to pull out the win in the closing minutes.
“We just needed a basket,” said guard Max Straus after nailing a 3-pointer with Miami just up by one point.
“I had all the confidence in the world to step up and make a shot,” said Straus. “It was a big shot and a big momentum killer.”
After being embarrassed by the Celtics at home in Game 2, the Heat came out aggressive from the opening tip.
“They out hustled us, ” said Boston coach Ime Udoka. “We need to get more physical on defense and match the Heat’s intensity.”
It didn’t help that the Celtics turned the ball over a whopping 23 times.
Still, it wasn’t all good news for the Heat.
Jimmy Butler was out the entire second half with knee inflammation, and there is no word on his condition for Game 4.
Marcus Smart rolled his ankle early in the third quarter but returned to play.
Game 4 is Monday at TD Garden.