Advertisement

Butler vows to be better, while Bam says it’s like there’s “lid” on rim. And 10 Heat notes

The Boston Celtics needed to overcome their worst three-point shooting performance of the season to win Game 6 on Saturday in Miami, but the Miami Heat needed to overcome an off night for its leading duo of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler just to keep the score close.

Adebayo and Butler combined for an inefficient 35 points on 9-of-37 (24.3 percent) shooting from the field in Saturday’s heartbreaking 104-103 loss to the Celtics at Kaseya Center.

Butler nearly recorded a triple-double in Game 6 with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but he shot just 5 of 21 from the field. It marked just the fourth game in Butler’s NBA career that he has made five or fewer field goals when taking more than 20 shots.

“Like I told the guys on the bench, I told the guys in the locker room, that if I play better, we’re not even in this position, honestly speaking,” Butler said, as the Heat traveled to Boston on Sunday for Monday’s Game 7 at TD Garden (8:30 p.m., TNT). “And I will be better. That’s what makes me smile, because those guys follow my lead. So when I’m playing better, I think we’re playing better as a whole.”

Heat hoping to turn Game 6 pain into Game 7 triumph in Boston: ‘We are never to be denied’

Adebayo closed with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, but shot just 4 of 16 from the field. It marked the first game in Adebayo’s NBA career that he has made four or fewer field goals when taking more than 15 shots.

“For me, man, keep shooting the shots I’m shooting,” Adebayo said when asked how he can be more efficient in Game 7. “I’ve got confidence in myself like no other. So for me, man, feels like a lid is on the rim, but I’ve got to figure out how I can make that basketball go in.”

Both Adebayo and Butler downplayed the notion that lingering injuries are to blame for their cold shooting on Saturday. Adebayo has played through shoulder and hamstring injuries this postseason and Butler sprained his right ankle in Game 1 of the Heat’s second-round series against the New York Knicks.

“I see no excuses for that,” Adebayo said. “You know, when you want something as special as a championship, I feel like every guy in our locker room would go through a brick wall to get that.”

The Heat needs Adebayo and Butler to be better in Game 7 to have a chance of keeping its season alive. Butler knows that.

“I just missed shots,” Butler said of Game 6. “I’ve just got to make them. Continually hit the open guy. Stay aggressive. Continue to lead the way for our guys. They definitely follow my lead, I will say that. They follow Bam’s lead as well, but especially me. So if I’m level-headed through the good and through the bad, they will be, as well.”

THIS AND THAT

Derrick White’s Game 6 game-winner for the Celtics was only the second time in playoff history that a player hit a shot at the buzzer - with his team trailing - to stave off elimination in a playoff series. The other: Michael Jordan’s jumper over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo, a snapshot etched in the minds of many NBA fans.

Overall, six players have made buzzer beaters to stave off elimination, with four of those coming in tie games. The last was Kawhi Leonard’s for Toronto, against Philadelphia, in 2019.

▪ The game had so many of the ingredients that the Heat needed to win: horrid Celtics three-point shooting (its worst of the season at 20 percent/7 for 35), great Heat three-point shooting (14 for 30, 46.7 percent) and just five Heat turnovers.

Per the Heat’s Couper Moorhead, Miami was just the third team in NBA postseason history to shoot 46 percent on threes (with a minimum of 30 attempts) with five or fewer turnovers. Teams who do that are 12-2 since the start of this season.

NBA teams are 97-16 in the playoffs when they shoot at least 46 percent on threes.

▪ The Heat’s five turnovers tied the fewest in franchise history in a playoff game and followed consecutive 16 turnover games by Miami.

▪ Besides hitting the game-winning shot, the Celtics held the Heat to 1 for 12 shooting when White was the primary defender, per ESPN’s tracking data. Butler shot 0 for 6 against White.

▪ Three Heat players - Butler, Adebayo and Caleb Martin - had double figures in points and rebounds, the first time the Heat has achieved that in a playoff game since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did it against Philadelphia in 2011.

▪ Monday will mark just the third Game 7 that the Heat has played on the road. The Heat dropped the first two — a 91-78 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta in the 2009 playoffs and a 116-89 loss to the Raptors in Toronto in the 2016 playoffs.

The Heat holds an all-time record of 6-5 in Game 7s.

▪ The Celtics are 22-5 in Game 7s in Boston, all time.

▪ The Celtics have tied the series even though Tatum is shooting 10 for 43 on threes in the series (23.3 percent) and Brown is shooting 6 for 34 on threes (17.6 percent). Tatum and Brown shot 35 and 33.5 percent on threes during the regular season.

But White is shooting 55.3 percent on threes in the series - 21 for 38.

▪ Butler, who scored 12 points in the final 3:51 of the game, has scored 39 points in 28 minutes of what the NBA defines as clutch time – the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer.

In the clutch in these playoffs, Butler is shooting 11 for 22 from the field, 2 for 5 on threes and 15 for 18 from the line. Miami has outscored the opponent by 35 points in his 28 clutch minutes – by far the best of any NBA player.

▪ On three-point attempts during this series, Gabe Vincent is shooting 50 percent (14 for 28), Duncan Robinson 46.4 percent (13 for 28) and Caleb Martin 46.2 (18 for 39).

Kevin Love has been with the Heat for 40 games, and Saturday was the first time he was a healthy scratch for a reason other than rest. He missed one game in March with a rib contusion and was among several veterans held out of a fairly meaningless late season game in Washington.

The Heat has been outscored by 20 in Love’s 61 minutes in this series.

Cody Zeller played ahead of Love as the backup center in Game 6, but Miami has been outscored by 21 points during his 56 minutes in this series, including by 7 in 2:21 of Game 6.