The Miami Heat survived the exit of Jimmy Butler to win a bold victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 3

BOSTON – The Miami Heat lost their second game to the Boston Celtics in person.

That was the message that came out of the Heat’s proud locker room after a brave 109-103 victory on Saturday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

After feeling embarrassed during a miserable performance in Game 2, in which the group never found their rhythm on either side of the floor, the Heat started Saturday’s fight with the kind of acne on both sides of the floor. which determined their season.

“They beat us like we stole something in Game 2,” said Heat center Bam Adebayo. “So this set fire to all of us.”

After struggling to find a groove in the first two games of the series, Adebayo played one of the best games of his Game 3 career, collecting 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and one block in 42 minutes, while making 15 appearances. . -22 from the floor.

The fact that Adebayo was able to lead the Heat to victory even when swingman star Jimmy Butler was forced to leave the game at half time due to inflammation in his right knee made it even more impressive.

Butler has been facing the same issue since he first suffered a knee injury in the 4th game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Atlanta Hawks and lost the 5th game that closed the series. After sitting the entire second half on Saturday, he was seen greeting his teammates in the locker room as they emerged from the floor of the TD Garden.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler would not need another MRI of the knee, but his condition for race 4 on Monday night remains unclear.

“It did not have its normal outburst,” Spoelstra said of Butler. “It simply came to our notice then. I think the next two days will be very important, obviously.

“At half time, really, the coaches made the call. We just feel like we were in this situation a lot with some of our kids. We almost have to hold them back. We understand that and we like it for them. irresponsible “.

As was the case throughout the Spoelstra season in Miami, the rest of the Heat’s roster was able to go up and get loose. Kyle Lowry, who has not played since being re-injured in his left hind thigh in the 4th Eastern Conference semifinal game against the Philadelphia 76ers on May 8, scored 11 points and six assists, providing a consistent veteran defense.

“Something about this team is that we have kids who are hard workers,” Lowry said. “Udonis [Haslem] he always says that we all did it the hard way, all of us. Many children without a pension, many children who have chosen a lower round, second round children. We all found ways to make this our bread and we found ways to do our job at a high level and be here and stay. That’s great for us. “

A former G League player who made a huge difference on Saturday was Max Strus. The 25-year-old guard scored the biggest shot of the night, when he nailed a three-pointer with 2:16 left for the game he gave to the Heat, who were left with a 93-92 lead, the dagger they needed to close the Celtics.

As Strus explained, it was actually Lowry who set up the last row.

“In the timeout,” said Kyle, “let’s do a analysis for Max,” Strauss said. “Let’s open it. So when he said that, I had all the confidence in the world to go up and take a shot.”

The Heat are still confident that they can find a way to win this series, even as Butler and guard Tyler Hero, who face an injury on all fours, try to find their way back to the floor for the game 4..

The Heat left TD Garden beaming because they knew they had found a way under adverse conditions and gave the Celtics the kind of blow that many did not expect after such a demolition from Boston in Game 2.

“It was like a wounded animal,” said Celtics man Al Horford. “They came out fighting. For whatever reason, we just did not have the same sense of urgency.”

Now, as the Heat wait to see how Butler’s knee responds to treatment, they do so knowing they will return to Miami with the worst 2-2 draw in a row.

“Whatever happens at the end of the day, if you put your heart out there and play hard, you have to be happy and live with the results,” Lowry said. “And that’s what we do.”

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report

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