The duel for the Eastern Conference title began Tuesday with the first game of the best-of-seven series played by the third-seeded Boston Celtics against the fifth-seeded Miami Heat, who won 117-114.
They did it in extra time and after center Bam Adebayo put a spectacular cap on Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum’s shot, who could have forced the second five minutes extra.
Before that, Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic, with 29 points, and shooting guard Jimmy Butler, the stars, had led the Heat’s attack and got the baskets that gave him the chance to star in the comeback in the fourth period.
Butler’s three-point play with 12 seconds left to play put Miami in the lead, Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in the last seconds and the Heat went 1-0 ahead in the series.
Point guard Kemba Walker’s basket with 23.2 seconds to play in overtime put Boston ahead by one, before Butler made his way to the hoop to score while Tatum fouled him.
The Celtics picked Tatum in the next possession and when he was about to score he ran into the Adebayo stopper that was going to decide the Heat’s win, which ended Boston’s streak of seven straight wins in the first game of the playoff series.
Along with Dragic, who also captured seven rebounds and dealt four assists, forward Jae Crowder scored 22 points, Butler got to 20, and Adebayo scored 18 points with nine touchdown passes, the team’s best in that facet of the game.
Rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro was once again the Heat’s sixth player to come close to a triple-double after contributing 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, which also left him as the winning surprise factor.
While Tatum contributed a 30-point double-double, 14 rebounds -13 defenses-, delivered five assists, recovered three balls and put up two blocks.
Point guard Marcus Smart had another 26 points, Walker had 19, and shooting guard Jaylen Brown had 17 points.
Boston led 85-71 early in the fourth quarter and held the lead for most of the final period, until Butler connected a triple from the right corner with 22 seconds left to play for a 106-105 lead over Miami.
The Celtics tied before the clock started again. Forward Derrick Jones Jr. was penalized for an off-play foul while Miami defended the pass inside the field, a decision the Heat argued in vain to push him back into position.
Tatum went to the line, tied the game with the free-kick, and Boston suddenly went from needing a touchdown to running out of time.
Miami requested that Tatum had ‘walked’ after receiving the ball with seven seconds left in regulation time, but his attempt to triple the score was cut short and the game went into extra time.
Boston started the game quickly by taking a partial 24-11 lead, but the Heat emerged with their best defense and the offense recovered as well.
The Heat scored 37 points in 10 minutes of the second quarter, and the teams went to halftime with the score tied at 55. The Heat’s biggest lead came in the second half, early in the third period with a 61-56 split, after Butler scored with a short hook.
That got Boston reacting and the Celtics overtook the Heat on a 27-10 streak in the final 8:17 minutes of the third quarter, Smart scored 10 points to even out the Heat’s output on his own, and Boston’s lead was 83-71 as they entered the fourth period.
The game was the 141st of all-time between the Celtics and the Heat and also the 39th meeting in their history with Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins, but it was the first time those four clubs met on the same date.