BAM ADEBAYO had a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, Tyler Herro came alive with 11 points in the fourth quarter and the Miami Heat booked their trip to the NBA Finals with a 125-113 Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night near Orlando.
Jimmy Butler added 22 points, Herro had 19, and Andre Iguodala scored a season-high 15 as the Heat advanced to the Finals for the first time since 2014. Duncan Robinson also scored 15, and Goran Dragic had 13.
Adebayo, who led the team with an average of 21.8 points per game during the series, had shouldered the blame for Miami’s Game 5 loss after being held to 13 points. “I put that weight on my shoulders, and I got to perform,” he said. “At the end of the day, I left it all on the court and we ended up with a W.”
Jaylen Brown had 26 points, Jayson Tatum got 24 with a career-high 11 assists, and Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker 20 apiece for the Celtics, who couldn’t come all the way back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
“It was a fun run,” said Walker, who joined Boston last offseason as its prized free agent acquisition. “Tough pill to swallow, but we fought hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
Miami moves on to face the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Finals on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).
“We’ll have a very healthy respect for our next opponent,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who won championships in 2012 and 2013 when Lakers star LeBron James played for Miami. “We know who we’re facing.”
The Heat erased a six-point deficit in the fourth when Butler made 1 of 2 foul shots before Herro nailed a 3-pointer and added another bucket to knot the score at 96 with 7:40 remaining. Miami pulled ahead 104-102 with 5:31 left as Daniel Theis fouled out for Boston, Adebayo hitting 1 of 2 at the line.
That free throw kicked off a 13-0 run to put the game away for the Heat. Herro gave Miami the game’s first double-digit lead at 112-102 with 3:31 to go, and the score was 116-102 before the Celtics snapped a nearly four-minute scoring drought. Boston got no closer than 12 down the stretch.
“Miami deserves a lot of credit,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “They’re super physical, super tough, and very savvy. I think they’re the best team in the East and deserve to be representing the East, the way that they’ve played.”
A 7-0 Celtics spurt late in the third quarter knotted the score at 86. Dragic’s basket with 26 seconds left gave Miami an 88-86 lead entering the fourth.
Tatum had 12 points in the second quarter after a scoreless first in which the Celtics trailed by as much as nine. His layup with 1:56 left gave Boston a 56-55 edge, but the Heat went back ahead on an Adebayo layup with 42.6 seconds remaining and led 62-60 at the break.
“I believe in our group — I know that we can still win four more,” Butler said. “We’re not satisfied, we’re not complacent. We know we’ve got a really good team to go up against.” — Reuters