ORLANDO • Miami seem to have a knack for turning up the heat against the Boston Celtics in times of adversity.
Down by 14 in Game 1 of their National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference Finals, they rallied to win 117-114 in overtime. In Game 2 on Thursday night, they did it again after trailing.
Led by Goran Dragic’s game-high 25 points, the Heat turned it up in the second half, rallying for a 106-101 victory over the Celtics and a 2-0 lead in the series.
Although they were down by 17 in the second quarter and 60-47 at half-time, Miami thrashed the Celtics 37-17 in the third quarter and held on to win. Bam Adebayo scored 15 of his 21 points in the Heat’s blistering third period.
“We came here to these play-offs trying to win a championship,” said the forward, who was the hero of Game 1 with his critical block in overtime. “We keep stacking these wins and hopefully we get to that point. Right now, 2-0, we’ve got to keep stacking those ‘W’s.”
Adebayo added 10 rebounds and four assists, Jimmy Butler had 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals. Six Miami players scored in double figures, including Duncan Robinson, who had 18 points on six three-pointers.
“We like to make it hard for ourselves,” Butler said of the Miami “comeback kids”.
The Celtics regained the lead in the fourth quarter and were up 94-89 with 4min 25sec left to play.
But the Heat chipped away with a hook shot from Adebayo and a steal and dunk by Butler.
Dragic followed up two free throws with a three-pointer that put the Heat ahead 100-95 with 1min 42sec remaining and Miami powered to the finish line.
Kemba Walker broke out of his scoring slump with 23 points for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum scored 21 apiece.
But Brown missed a three-pointer that would have tied it with 15 seconds to play and 20 Celtics turnovers led to 26 Miami points.
“They outplayed us,” Walker said of the Heat’s third-quarter surge. “I think we got comfortable and those guys took advantage of it. They played hard – a lot harder than us. We fought our way back, but just too many mistakes.”
The Heat will try to take a stranglehold on the series in Game 3 today. No NBA team have rallied from a 0-3 deficit to win a series and that might have contributed to tension in the Celtics’ locker room after the defeat.
“Guys were emotional after a hard game, hard loss,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the shouting that could be heard.
Walker would not be drawn on reports that Marcus Smart let fly before storming out.
“It was nothing,” he insisted, adding: “We’ll be fine.”
Tatum insisted the Celtics will focus on finding a way to win Game 3.
“Two times now we’ve had double-digit leads and let go of the ropes,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out why that keeps happening and just be prepared to win the next one.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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