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Bam! Adebayo rises to occasion with block for the ages

China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-17 09:16
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Miami's Bam Adebayo thwarts a dunk attempt by Boston's Jayson Tatum during overtime in Game One of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals. Magic Johnson described the block as "the best defensive play I've seen ever in the playoffs". USA TODAY SPORTS

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida-Jayson Tatum thought he had a dunk to tie the game.

Bam Adebayo had other ideas-and in the biggest moment of his young NBA career, Miami's All-Star big man more than rose to the occasion.

Jimmy Butler's three-point play with 12 seconds left put Miami ahead for good, Adebayo finished it off with a stunning rejection of Tatum at the rim on the ensuing Boston possession, and the Heat struck first in the Eastern Conference finals with a 117-114 win in Game 1 on Tuesday night.

"When you have great competition like this, you just have to make plays that you can't even really explain," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And that was Bam tonight."

The Heat were down by 13 in the opening minutes, down by 14 in the final quarter and took the lead in the final seconds. They found a way in overtime, improving to an NBA-best 9-1 so far in these playoffs.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points, Jae Crowder scored 22, Butler had 20 and Adebayo had 18.

Even after a night when Butler made a go-ahead 3-pointer late in regulation and had the go-ahead-for-good points again in overtime, he pointed at Adebayo for his favorite moment.

"Bam! That seals the game for us," Butler said. "I love how he does any and everything that you ask him to do. I really do. You ask him to pass the ball, he does that. Score, he does that. Come up with a huge defensive stop, block, he does that. He's a huge part to our winning. I've been saying it all year long and I'll repeat it again."

Kemba Walker's basket with 23.2 seconds left in overtime put Boston up by one, before Butler muscled his way to the rim for a score while getting fouled by Tatum. The Celtics went to Tatum on the ensuing possession, only to watch him get denied by Adebayo.

"He made a great play," Tatum said. "That's all it is, can't do anything about it."

Tatum scored 30 points for the Celtics, Marcus Smart had 26 points, Walker had 19 and Jaylen Brown added 17. The Celtics had been 156-1 since the shot-clock era started 65 years ago-winners of 92 straight-when leading by 12 or more points going into the fourth quarter of a playoff game. They are 156-2 now.

"Got to make better decisions," Walker said.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens tipped his cap to Adebayo afterward.

"He is a tremendous defender," Stevens said. "We're going to have to figure out, again, better ways to attack, especially late. I thought we really moved it at times, then we did get stagnant."

Miami's Tyler Herro was one assist shy of a triple-double-finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He would have been the second-youngest player in the last 40 years to have a postseason triple-double, one day older than Magic Johnson when he got his first.

Johnson weighed in postgame on Twitter, lauding Miami.

"Bam Adebayo's block on Jayson Tatum's dunk attempt was the best defensive play I've seen ever in the playoffs!!!!" Johnson tweeted.

"Made a hell of a block," Adebayo said. "That doesn't dictate the series, though. We're only up 1-0."

Associated Press

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