Jimmy Buttel made a miraculous move when Jamie fouled Tatum with 12 seconds to play, and as soon as the Miami hit was defeated, Tatum came to the left Adebayo, who proved to be a game-saving block in the Tam right attempt. Overtime Tuesday night Boston Celtics 117-114.
A great, intensely competitive game for all 53 minutes that saw a change of leadership 13 times and the game even drew four times, proved to be a dramatic ending to the competition but all the game is a microscope of a great game showing long. Hopefully this is the instant-classic series that will be on display as it will go a full seven-game distance.
Here are some of the ones taken from the opener of the gorgeous Eastern Conference Finals.
Jimmy, the clutch comes when the left is most important
If you take a look at Butler and Adebayor’s final box score figures from Tuesday’s competition, you may be a little uneasy.
Outside of the nine assists recorded by Adebayo, there’s nothing particularly outstanding about Butler’s 20-point, five-return, five-assist night of 7-of-14 shooting, or Adebayo’s 18-point and six rebounds for 5-for-12 shooting.
By the high quality of these two All Stars it feels like any other old day in the office.
However, as the article goes on, that’s why you watch games.
Butler scored eight of his 20 points, and Adabayo dropped 11 of his 18 in the fourth quarter and overtime in Game 1, extending their respective games when their team needed the most.
This clutch drama is defined right there and going forward and Butler’s one game and the huge block of adiabio has proven to be icing on top of the cake.
In the hands of the heat is a true hero
Of course, it wasn’t just Butler and Adebayo that helped save the day for Miami.
Goran Dragik’s career recovery from re-entering the lineup at the start continued on Tuesday as he scored 29 points, including 11 in the second quarter alone, as his shots helped keep the heat in the game early in the competition.
Bright as Dragick in Game 1 was another sharpshooter who ended up stealing the spotlight a little late for Miami.
Rookie Taylor Hero got a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and gained confidence from head coach Eric Spolstra to close out the fourth quarter and play almost all overtime, largely based on the strength of both his skill and courage.
Hero scored six points in the fourth quarter, making a huge three-pointer late in the frame that led to hits between three points and then two points.
The baby was ready for primetime.
If there’s a podcasting odd couple, it might be. Donovan Bennett and JD Bunkis disagree on one thing, but you’ll agree it’s the best podcast of the Toronto Raptors.
Over time, the brightness of the tatum fades
As Tatum debuted as a rising superstar during the playoffs before the start of overtime, he scored 26 points in 20-20 shots and almost made Bali almost imaginable: step-back threes, medium Jimmy in good defense, move drive, etc.
And then hit the extra frame and he disappeared like a magician, getting only two points in a 0-for-4 shooting, with a 0-for-2 mark from the deep, and of course looking to see what would be the giant Adebayor within seconds of the game dying. Slam moved away with the big left hand.
So, what happened?
Well, in the extra overtime, it looked like Celtics coach Brad Stevens had called off Tatum to take his man – mostly Butler – one by one, so that the stars relied on their ability to do the right thing.
This is not a bad idea from the point of view of Tatum’s infinite talent, but it did not work, and the defense against him in extra time was probably the single biggest cause of the Celtic loss.
Lots of positives for the Celtics despite the loss
There’s no way around it, it’s a very win-win game for the Celtics and they take it away and it can’t feel good. But instead of sinking into the IFS, Boston would be better served by focusing on what it did well, and to be honest, there’s a lot more to be found.
For example, although Tatum failed in overtime and looked close-to-most for most of the game, this is a very encouraging sign for the Celtics because it means they can have the best players in the series, even better than Hit on Butler.
Or will Walker finally find life at the last minute of the game after scoring just nine points in a 2-of-11 shootout through the first three quarters? Walker survived the fourth and overtime and scored 10 points on a more efficient 4-of-10 mark from the floor, including a signature clutch step-back jumper to lead Boston to 23 seconds of play.
And last but not least, Marcus Smart held his hot shooting hand with Toronto from the Boston series when he went 6-13 from a three-point range to play his all-world defense (and general pain for the opponent).
So it wasn’t the result Boston wanted, but it doesn’t seem like a complete disaster for Game 1. The Celtics must have their chances again.