Just over 24 hours after the Miami Heat battled against the defending champions till the final horn on Monday, they were suiting up once again. This time against another competitive Eastern Conference playoff team in the Boston Celtics.
Playing back-to-backs might be easier in the bubble than in the normal circumstances but what certainly made this one tougher was taking the court without an All-Star in Jimmy Butler. That, however, didn't stop them from registering a hard-fought victory.
Defeating the Celtics 112-106, Miami now trails Boston by just 2.5 games for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Here are the biggest talking points from this contest between two of the four best teams in the East:
Balanced Heat output
Without Butler, the Heat needed to score by committee and so they did. Five players finished in double figures, led by 21 points apiece from the young duo of Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson.
🔥 @Bam1of1 (21 PTS, 12 REB) and @D_Bo20 (21 PTS, 5 3PM lead @MiamiHEAT to within 1.5 games of Boston for the #3 seed out East! #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/EXj3XsiKkd- NBA (@NBA) August 5, 2020
Kelly Olynyk was the other starter who contributed across the board, finishing with 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes. Gordon Dragic, in 28 minutes on court, scored 20 of the team's 43 bench points.
The Heat, who led by as many as 16 late in the second quarter, were holding a slim lead in the closing minutes of the game.
That's when Robinson knocked down key clutch jumpers, scoring nine of the team's last 10 points and outscoring the C's single-handedly 9-8 in the final 3:20 minutes of the game.
All key Celtics but Tatum struggle
It was definitely the haircut. For a second straight game, Jayson Tatum had his shot falling, but battling foul trouble, he couldn't catch fire.
He finished with a team-high 23 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, the only Celtic to shoot efficiently from the field.
JT for 3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/212IKL1Cz5- Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 5, 2020
Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown combined for 33 points on 14-of-36 shooting from the field. Marcus Smart, fouling out after 16 minutes, only managed three points.
Goran Dragic update
In the closing seconds of the game, Goran Dragic tweaked his right ankle looking to avoid catching the foul. In pain, he returned to the locker room to get it checked out.
Postgame, the X-rays returned negative, but there was no word on whether he would be available for the Heat's next game against the Bucks a couple of days later.
INJURY UPDATE: Postgame x-rays of Goran Dragic's ankle were negative. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow.- x - Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 5, 2020
The Slovenian is an essential cog in the Heat engine. The team is 11-3 when he scores 20 or more. In this contest, Dragic scored seven of his 20 in the fourth quarter.
Celtics point guard Kemba walker continued his slow return from a knee injury, playing another game on a minutes restriction. Today he played 27 minutes, getting his first fourth-quarter minutes in Orlando.
He's looked good, driving to the hole and on his long-range jumpers. In the three seeding games so far, he's averaging 15.0 points on 58.3% shooting from the field in just 22.6 minutes.
🚨 @KembaWalker FROM THE LOGO 🚨 pic.twitter.com/ZKdpYZyxMB- Boston Celtics (@celtics) August 5, 2020
On precautionary grounds, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Walker would not be available for the team's contest against the Nets on the second night of a back-to-back.
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