Butler returns, Adebayo rebounds, a skirmish, other takeaways Heat’s Game 3 win over Knicks

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Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 105-86 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday at Kaseya Center in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series. The eighth-seeded Heat leads the fifth-seeded Knicks 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, with Game 4 on Monday in Miami (7:30 p.m., TNT):

Heat leads from start to finish, beats Knicks to take 2-1 series lead

It was an offensive struggle for both teams. But the Knicks’ offense was the worst of the two and that proved to be the difference.

The Knicks shot 34.1 percent from the field and 8 of 40 (20 percent) from three-point range. New York posted an offensive rating of 88.7 points scored per 100 possessions for its worst single-game offensive rating of this year’s playoffs.

The Heat shot 38.9 percent from the field and 7 of 32 (21.9 percent) from three-point range to post an offensive rating of 109.4 points scored per 100 possessions that ended up as Miami’s worst single-game offensive rating of this year’s playoffs.

The result: The Heat pulled ahead by double digits with 11:38 left in the second quarter and led by double digits for the rest of the game. The Knicks never held a lead in Game 3.

NBA teams entered Saturday with an 0-6 record in this year’s playoffs when shooting worse than 22 percent from three-point range. But because of a dominant defensive effort, the Heat improved its all-time playoff record when shooting worse than 22 percent from beyond the arc to 11-24.

Teams across the league are now 4-15 in this year’s playoffs when shooting 40 percent or worse from the field, as the Heat became the rare team to overcome such inefficient shooting this postseason.

“You have to do whatever you have to do to win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You don’t have to shoot 50 threes to win a playoff game. First quarter set the tone for the game, activity level, multiple efforts, finishing our defense against a phenomenal rebounding team. I thought we did a good job today. You have to find a way to conquer it.”

The offensive issues began early, as neither team shot the ball efficiently in the first half.

New York entered halftime with just 44 points on 16-of-47 (34 percent) shooting from the field and 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) shooting from three-point range. The Knicks also shot an awful 4 of 25 (16 percent) from outside the paint in the first half.

The Heat wasn’t much better, shooting 21 of 53 (39.6 percent) from the field and 4 of 19 (21.1 percent) from beyond the arc in the first two quarters.

But Miami still led by as many as 19 points in the first half and entered halftime with a big 58-44 lead because it won the possession game by committing just three turnovers and edging out New York 9-8 in the offensive rebounding battle in the first two quarters.

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, who scored 30 points in Game 2, finished Saturday’s loss with 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting from the field and 0-of-5 shooting from three-point range. He has shot 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) on threes in the first three games of the series.

The odds are now on the Heat’s side to accomplish something not many teams have done in NBA history.

Entering this postseason, teams that won Game 3 of a best-of-7 playoff series that was tied at 1-1 went on to win the series 72.8 percent of the time (185-69).

In addition, teams with a 2-1 edge in a best-of-7 series have gone on to advance 78.5 percent of the time (346-95).

The Heat finds itself in this position after Saturday’s victory, sitting two wins away from becoming just the second No. 8 seed to make it to the conference finals since the current 16-team NBA playoff format was instituted for the 1983-84 season. The Knicks are the only team to pull that off since 1984, when they made it to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in the NBA Finals as the eighth seed in 1999.

“We always said we could win games if we defend and not make shots and this was one of those games,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “It feels good to get a W in front of our crowd.”

Butler made his return after missing Game 2 with a sprained ankle. More importantly, Butler was effective and spry.

Butler made the opening basket of the game and scored eight of the Heat’s first 15 points. He closed the opening period with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, two rebounds, one assist and two blocks while playing the entire first quarter.

Butler, who missed Game 2 with a sprained right ankle that he sustained late in the series-opener, went on to finish Saturday’s win with a game-high 28 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 shooting from the foul line, four rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes.

Like usual, Butler did most of his damage from around the basket to close Game 3 with 12 points in the paint on 6-of-14 shooting.

“You can’t put an analytic to it. It’s the overall confidence level your team has,” Spoelstra said when asked how Butler’s return helped the Heat on Saturday. “You can always get the ball to him and know we can get something efficient and coherent.”

There was one scary moment for Butler and the Heat, though. He came up hobbling after falling down on a drive to the basket in the third quarter, but he was able to stay in the game to play the rest of the period.

During an in-game interview on the ABC broadcast ahead of the fourth quarter, Spoelstra said Butler hurt his thigh on the play.

But Spoelstra said following Game 3 that Butler is “fine.”

With the Knicks cutting the deficit to 14, Butler re-entered the game with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter and seemed unaffected by the injury. He scored four points and dished out an assist after coming back in to help seal the victory before heading back to the bench for good with 1:45 to play and the Heat’s lead back up to 16 points.

Butler’s incredible postseason continues, as he’s now averaging 34.4 points per game on 56.4 percent shooting from the field in seven games in this year’s playoffs.

Max Strus was the Heat’s second-leading scorer in Game 3, finishing with 19 points.

After blaming himself for the Heat’s Game 2 loss, it was evident center Bam Adebayo made it a priority to help the Heat bounce back from a poor rebounding performance.

Adebayo closed Saturday’s win with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from the foul line and a team-high 12 rebounds. It marked the most rebounds that Adebayo has finished with in a game during this year’s playoffs.

This comes after the Heat was outrebounded by the Knicks 14-5, including 4-0 on the offensive glass, in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Game 2 defeat.

“We watched film [from Game 2]. I felt there were a couple of those I could have crashed and gotten a rebound,” Adebayo said of the Heat’s improved rebounding display on Saturday. “We knew they were going to offensive rebound.”

But with Adebayo helping control the glass, the Heat was able to keep the Knicks from dominating the rebounding battle for a second straight game.

The Knicks only closed Game 3 with a small 14-13 edge in offensive rebounds. That’s a win for the Heat, considering the Knicks ended the regular season with the NBA’s second-highest offensive rebounding percentage (the percentage of available offensive rebounds a team grabs) and entered Saturday with the NBA’s highest offensive rebounding percentage in this year’s playoffs.

“He’s our best rebounder,” Spoelstra said of Adebayo. “... He’s just a winning player.”

Adebayo also helped limit Knicks forward Julius Randle to an inefficient 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field. Adebayo played as Randle’s primary defender for most of the game.

“Bam was all over the place, both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “The stat line doesn’t do any justice of the impact to be able to take a challenge on a great player like Randle, with limited help.”

The Heat leaned on its depth in Game 2, going with a five-man bench rotation and even using a lineup made up solely of reserves to open the second quarter.

The Heat’s bench rotation on Saturday included Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Cody Zeller and Haywood Highsmith.

The Heat’s reserves combined to outscore the Knicks’ bench 32-25.

The most impressive stretch of the day for the Heat’s bench came early in the game, when Miami opened the second quarter with an all-reserve lineup of Lowry, Robinson, Martin, Highsmith and Zeller.

This five-man unit outscored the Knicks 15-4 to begin the second period while the Heat’s leading duo of Adebayo and Butler was on the bench. That run pushed the Heat’s lead up from eight points at the end of the first quarter to 19 points when Adebayo and Butler re-entered with 8:02 left in the second quarter.

“We have trust in those guys. they’ve been a big part of what we’ve been doing,” Spoelstra said of the all-bench lineup he turned to in the second quarter on Saturday. “It can always make it look easier when you have a Hall of Fame point guard and get them settled. They were really inspiring, gave us a big time boost.”

Lowry led the way for the Heat’s bench unit, totaling 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field, 2-of-4 shooting on threes and 4-of-4 shooting from the foul line, three rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes.

Martin, who played through a back contusion, finished with three points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.

Zeller ended the game with six points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.

Robinson recorded four points on 1-of-5 shooting from three-point range in 13 minutes.

Highsmith contributed five points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.

The Heat’s bench has outscored the Knicks’ reserves 84-52 in the series.

A scuffle between the Heat and Knicks late in the third quarter Saturday brought back memories of the teams’ intense rivalry from the past.

With 14.7 seconds left in the third quarter and the Heat already ahead by 17 points, things got physical between Zeller and Randle as they battled for a rebound.

After Randle ended up falling into the padded basket stanchion, Heat and Knicks players ran over and the pushing and shoving ensued.

Nobody was ejected because of the incident, but Zeller and Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein were called for offsetting technical fouls. Martin also picked up an unsportsmanlike technical for pushing Hartenstein after Hartenstein ran into the scrum.

It all ended with the Knicks taking a technical free throw, but Randle missed it.

“It’s two physical teams and the playoffs,” Zeller said of the skirmish. “It’s all good. It was nothing.”