NBA

Butler will not need MRI, as Spoelstra praises Adebayo's stabilising force

By Sports Desk May 22, 2022

Jimmy Butler will not require an MRI scan after leaving Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with knee inflammation, said Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who praised Bam Adebayo for "stabilising" the team in his absence in a 109-103 win over the Boston Celtics.

Butler played 19 minutes in the first half but did not emerge from the locker room for the second at TD Garden.

Yet the Heat were still able to claim a 2-1 lead in the series, a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA Bubble, thanks predominantly to Adebayo.

Adebayo went 15 for 22 from the field as he scored 31 points and added 10 rebounds.

He also had six assists and four steals. The Heat's 19 steals marked a franchise postseason record and the most for any team in a playoff game since 2015.

Having produced 32 and 27-point games against the Celtics in the bubble, Adebayo's three-highest scoring playoff performances have now all come versus Boston.

"He did his version of what Jimmy does in terms of 'do what's necessary for the game,'" Spoelstra told a media conference of Adebayo, who finished plus-17 in the plus-minus.

"He was extremely assertive, it happened in a lot of moments that were fully in the context of how we want to play. He was just way more assertive on the catch and those moments in between. 

"It wasn't just the scoring, that's what everybody is going to recognise but he did so many things in terms of getting us organised, facilitating, playing point guard for us at times, running offense in the post through him and then defending as he always does one through five against a team that presents a lot of challenges.

"He's a winning player. He really is the heart and soul of our group, you can count on him all the time, he doesn't get caught up in all the noise, he's just out there competing, playing winning basketball, doing it on both ends and doing what is necessary.

"When Jimmy was out in the second half he just stabilised us. It got a little bit gnarly out there and when it did we were able to get the ball to Bam and just get something coherent."

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