ORLANDO • Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo made the biggest block of his career with 5.1 seconds left in overtime as the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 117-114 in the opening game of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals at Disney World on Tuesday.
It was the second game-winning play by the Heat in the final 12 seconds. Moments earlier, Jimmy Butler fought through traffic for the go-ahead bucket, drawing a foul and making the free throw to put Miami up 116-114.
Adebayo then upstaged his teammate, leaping high to take what appeared to be an easy dunk away from Jayson Tatum before hitting a free throw the other end.
“Bam’s block on Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt was the best defensive play I’ve seen ever in the play-offs!!!!,” tweeted Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
Adebayo labelled it his best play. “Play-offs, game on the line, number one play,” the 23-year-old said.
Tatum missed on a three-point attempt as time expired, ensuring the Heat’s ninth win in 10 games. “He made a great play,” the Celtics forward, who led all scorers with 30 points, said of the block. “Can’t do anything about it.”
Adebayo added 18 points and nine assists, Butler scored 20, Jae Crowder had 22 while Goran Dragic led the Heat with 29 points with seven rebounds.
Adebayo has gone from strength to strength in his breakthrough season. He averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in the regular season to get his first All-Star nod in February.
Going into Game 1, he had 16.2 points, 11.7 boards and 4.8 assists a game in the play-offs. He came out of it hearing the basketball world talk about the second of his two blocks.
“That sealed the game for us… (Adebayo is) a huge part to why we’re winning – I’ve been saying it all year long, and I’ll repeat it again,” Butler said.
Marcus Smart scored 26 and Kemba Walker had 19 points for the Celtics, who will have to bounce in Game 2 today.
Boston last made the NBA Finals a decade ago, while Miami’s last trip was in 2014.