Heat Steal Series Lead Over Celtics Despite Jimmy Butler Exit

The Heat lost Jimmy Butler for the second half, but won the game.

And courtesy of Saturday’s 109-103 road win over the Celtics, Miami now holds a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.Bam Adebayo

Butler was suffering right knee inflammation, the Heat announced just after the start of the third quarter. But while Butler was absent for the home stretch, Kyle Lowry (hamstring) returned, and Bam Adebayo came up big — scoring 31 points on 15-of-21 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Not bad for a guy who scored just 16 points in the first two games combined.

And here’s how important Lowry was, as relayed by Nick Geddes of OutKick:

“Lowry’s presence was pivotal for the Heat, especially on the defensive end. Miami racked up 19 steals to Boston’s two, with Lowry leading the way with four. His most important came in the fourth quarter, with Boston threatening. With Miami clinging to a 101-94 lead with 42.5 seconds remaining, Lowry intercepted Grant Williams’ inbound pass and found Max Strus, who sank a three-pointer to effectively ice the game.”

In all, the Heat compiled a whopping 19 steals, compared to just two for the Celtics.

Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown practically singled-handedly kept the Celtics in it, tallying 40 points and offering a reason to believe despite an off night from Jayson Tatum (10 points, 3-of-14 shooting).

Butler’s return was not yet known at the time of this writing. But what we do know is the Celtics are desperate now, losing homecourt almost as quickly as they got it. Game 4 is Monday night, again in Boston, on ABC at 8:30 EST.




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