Miami Heat Center, Edrice “Bam” Adebayo played one of the top games of his five year career and was a major influence in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, as the Heat pipped Boston Celtics, 109 – 103 at the TD Garden. Adebayo exploded for 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals on Saturday night and repeatedly made demonstrative plays indicative of his moniker — Bam!
Just a Different Mentality Adebayo’s stellar performance was much-needed with Miami star Jimmy Butler missing the second half due to right knee inflammation. Butler scored eight points in 20 minutes, leaving him to step up for Miami in the second half of the game. Fans and analysts were begging for Heat players to improve their level of play to help Butler during these playoffs and Adebayo certainly did his part, playing with poise and grit to help Miami go up 2-1 in the series. “Just a different mentality,” Adebayo said. “Like I said, they beat us like we stole something in Game 2. So that woke a fire up in all of us.” The aggressive mentality was noticeable from the start. He scored on a driving layup on Miami’s third possession, and by the end of the first quarter, as the Heat built a 39-18 lead, Adebayo had 12 points. The 24-year old recorded 16 points in the first half, which matched his total from the first two games, and 15 in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter when Boston cut a 15-point deficit to a point late in the game.
Bam Adebayo Games 1+2: Game 3: 16 PTS 31 PTS 13 REB 10 REB 3 AST 6 AST 0 STL 4 STL 6-10 FG 15-22 FG pic.twitter.com/EqI4RiT41d — StatMuse (@statmuse) May 22, 2022
Showcase of the Two-Way Player in Bam After the blowout loss in Game 2, the Heat realized they would have trouble winning games with Adebayo restricted offensively. At Saturday morning’s shootaround at the venue of the clash, Head Coach, Eric Spoelstra addressed the salient topic of allowing Bam free reign on both ends of the court. “We want him more involved, and I have to do a better job of that, of making sure that he’s involved, engaged, getting us to our triggers. … He’s a very important part of our offense and how we function.” The former Kentucky Wildcat, who was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team for the third consecutive season on Friday, unleashed that two-way play with eight defensive rebounds, the steals and a block.
Per @EliasSports, last night, Bam Adebayo became the 4th starting center to lead a team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a playoff win since steals & blocks became official in 1973-74. The others: Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. pic.twitter.com/NgF1JZvY0c — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2022
Celtics Response Much Needed Boston never led in the game but erased almost all of the 62-37 deficit and came within one point, 93-92, with 2:40 to play on a 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown, who finished with 40 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one block one steal and seven turnovers. As is usually the case when the Celtics lose, a large part of Boston’s struggles came from their inability to take care of the basketball. The team registered a total of 24 turnovers compared to Miami’s eight.
The 17-time champions now find themselves under pressure to win game four before heading back to Miami in game five. Unlike their series against Milwaukee, Boston does not want to be dragged into a seven-game series, as Miami holds home-court advantage in the eventuality.
So, now we wait to see how the Celtics respond to yet another loss on home court – luckily, this is a team that usually bounces back in the face of adversity.