The Miami Heat are on the verge of a sweep. The Heat and the Indiana Pacers squared off in Game 3 of their first round series on Saturday afternoon, and despite the Pacers showing some serious guts to rally back from as many as 20 points down against their Eastern Conference foes, Miami came out on top, 124-115. With the win, Erik Spoelstra’s bunch took a commanding 3-0 series lead.
The Heat seemed poise to cruise to a win based off of a dominant first half. The team had a 75-56 lead at the half, in large part due to the fact that Miami shot 11-for-20 from deep in the first 24 minutes — the point total and the number of made triples were both a single-half record in franchise playoff history.
— NBA (@NBA) August 22, 2020
Darn near everything worked for Miami in the first half, something that was exemplified at the end of the second quarter when Goran Dragic darted into the lane and beat the buzzer with a layup that just barely made it out of his hand.
Dragic gets the shot off just in time! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/Z7rHUqVvKR
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 22, 2020
That hot shooting disappeared in the third, though, and ironically enough, that led to a scintillating quarter for the Pacers. In what was a wonderful team effort, Indiana began the frame on a 12-2 run, locking Miami down on one end and taking advantage of their chances at the other. By the time the quarter came to an end, Indiana’s once-gigantic deficit was reduced to only four, and the Heat took a 94-90 lead into the fourth.
— NBA (@NBA) August 22, 2020
Whatever Spoelstra said in the huddle prior to the fourth appeared to work. The quarter was defined by the Pacers looking ready to get over the hump — 94-92, 98-95, 111-109, 114-112 — but the Heat figuring something out. Their best shot may have come on the possession following that last aforementioned score, with Malcolm Brogdon drilling a triple to put Indiana within arm’s reach.
But unfortunately for the Pacers, Bam Adebayo is quite hard to keep off of the glass. The Heat missed back-to-back shots, but Adebayo reeled in both, eventually making his way to the free throw line and drilling them both. On the following possession, T.J. Warren had a contested layup, but was met at the rim by Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler’s block may be the highlight, but Bam Adebayo had a significant impact on this defensive possession. Watch him stunt. He forced Malcolm Brogdon to reset his drive, then helped out a second time to force the ball out of his hands. pic.twitter.com/GeLhvWYUfC
— Positive Residual (@presidual) August 22, 2020
Despite a shot clock violation on the next Miami possession, Indiana couldn’t score, and from there, the Heat just ran down the clock, with Butler, Dragic, and Jae Crowder baiting the Pacers into fouls and getting eight points in the final 40 seconds from the free throw line.
Four players on the Heat scored at least 20 points. Butler led the way, going for 27 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. Despite a tough shooting night (5-for-16 from the field), Butler was tenacious in getting to the charity stripe, where he went 17-for-20. Dragic dropped 24 and pitched in six assists, Adebayo had a double-double with 22 points and 11 boards, and Tyler Herro provided 20 points off the bench.
For the Pacers, Brogdon was superb, scoring a career-high 34 points, dishing out 14 assists, and hauling in seven rebounds. Warren had a productive day at the office — 23 points, six rebounds, five steals, two assists — while Oladipo scored 20 points, albeit on 21 shots. If Indiana has any hopes of a comeback, their All-Star guard will have to find the form that made him one of the best players in basketball prior to the quadriceps injury that cost him a year of action.
Game 4 will take place on Monday evening. Things are slated to tip off at 6:30 p.m. EST on TNT.