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Celtics strike back with 117-106 win over Heat

The Boston Celtics hit back on Saturday, leading wire-to-wire in a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat that cut the gap in the NBA Eastern Conference finals to two games to one.

Celtics strike back with 117-106 win over Heat
Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics with a rebound against Tyler Herro #14 of the Miami Heat as Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the fourth quarter in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 19, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP​
Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and Jayson Tatum added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who avoided falling into an 0-3 hole from which no NBA team has rallied to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

After their 17-point lead slipped away in a game-two loss on Thursday -- the second straight game they surrendered a double-digit lead in defeat -- Celtics players could be heard exchanging heated words in their locker room.

But they were all on the same page on Saturday, displaying a sense of purpose in the NBA's quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, and maintaining their poise as the Heat narrowed a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to five with less than a minute to play.

Marcus Smart, a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line, produced a string of clutch free throws and the Celtics hung on for the win.

"Down 0-2 in the series, we played some games we thought we should have played better," Brown said. "We wanted to make it an emphasis to come out tonight and play 48 minutes, and we did."

The Celtics were buoyed by the return from injury of playmaker Gordon Hayward, who played 30 minutes off the bench and scored six points with five rebounds and four assists in his first game in more than four weeks.

Center Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 27 points, 16 rebounds and three steals. Rookie Tyler Herro scored 22 points for Miami and star forward Jimmy Butler scored 17 but was not on the floor in the closing minutes.

The Celtics will try to even the series in game four on Wednesday.

Topics: Boston Celtics , Miami Heat , NBA Eastern Conference finals , Jaylen Brown , Jayson Tatum
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