LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jimmy Butler thought he won the game for Miami with a 3-pointer late in regulation.
He put the Heat ahead again in overtime — and then Bam Adebayo finished it off with the biggest block of his career.
Butler’s three-point play with 12 seconds left put Miami up for good, Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in the final seconds and the Heat rallied time and again to beat the Boston Celtics 117-114 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.
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.
And the Heat — down by 13 in the first quarter, down by 14 in the fourth — struck first, ending Boston’s seven-game streak of Game 1 wins.
Tatum scored 30 points for the Celtics, Marcus Smart had 26 points, Walker had 19 and Jaylen Brown added 17. Goran Dragic had 29 points, Jae Crowder scored 22, Jimmy Butler scored 20 and Adebayo had 18 for the Heat.
Miami’s Tyler Herro was one assist shy of a triple-double — finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Boston led 85-71 early in the fourth and kept the lead for almost all of the final period — until Butler connected on a 3-pointer from the right corner with 22 seconds left for a 106-105 Miami edge.
The Celtics tied it before the clock even started again. Derrick Jones Jr. was called for an away-from-the-play foul while Miami defended the inbounds pass, a call where the Heat argued to no avail that he got shoved instead. Tatum went to the line, tied the game with the free throw, and Boston all of a sudden went from needing a score to being able to run out the clock.
Miami wanted a travelling call when Tatum got the ball with about 7 seconds left. His 3-pointer was short, and to overtime they went.
Boston started fast by running out to a 24-11 lead, only to see Miami slow the Celtics down by going to plenty of zone and getting enough stops to allow their offence to start clawing back. The Heat scored 37 points in a 10-minute span of the second quarter — and the teams went into halftime knotted at 55.
The biggest Heat lead of the second half came early in the third, 61-56, after Butler got a short hook to fall.
Then Boston got rolling again.
The Celtics outscored the Heat 27-10 over the final 8:17 of the third quarter, Smart scoring 10 in that stretch to match the entire Miami output by himself, and the Boston lead was 83-71 going into the fourth. Miami shot 6 for 22 in the first quarter to get into trouble, then 6 for 20 in the third to get into a bigger mess.
Heat: Miami has gotten into early trouble in all three of its Game 1s in these playoffs — down eight to Indiana early in the first round, down 11 to Milwaukee in the opening quarter of the second round and down 13 to Boston in Tuesday’s first quarter. … Andre Iguodala, who played in zero conference-final games in his first 10 seasons, has now played in 22 since 2015.
Celtics: Boston’s record for consecutive Game 1 wins is 11, from 1985 through 1987. The Celtics won eight straight from 1959 through 1962. … Gordon Hayward (ankle) was inactive again, though the Celtics believe he can play in this series. … Brad Wanamaker had five steals for Boston.
MIAMI VS. BOSTON
Tuesday was the 141st meeting all-time between the Celtics and Heat. It also marked the 39th all-time matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins — but it was the first time those four clubs all faced off on the same date. The closest they previously came to colliding was 2012, when the Heat topped the Celtics in Game 7 of the East finals on June 9 and the Red Sox and Marlins opened a series two days later.
Tatum’s son young Deuce cleared quarantine and was reunited with his dad — and the rest of the Celtics — in the bubble on Tuesday. “Ultimately, it’s just nice for them to see their families,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I walked down the hallway with Deuce today, which was the highlight of my 70 days here. I think that’s just really cool.”
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press