Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics drives towards the rim in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at the AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida, September 19, 2020.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 117-106 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, making the series score 2-1 instead of trailing 3-0.
Having been absent from the court for a month, Gordon Hayward finally returned for Boston. Though he only scored six points, five rebounds, and four assists, Hayward became Boston's second orchestrator who had better court vision than Kemba Walker thanks to his size. When Boston could make one more pass in the correct way in the offense, they were one step closer, breaking through Miami's defense.
Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics handles the ball in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at the AdventHealth Arena, September 19, 2020.
"Gordon was great. Just having an extra guy who can make plays was huge for us. He had some big plays during this game, and he's only going to continue to go up," said Jaylen Brown.
"It meant everything. Obviously, we played a while without him. And I've said it before: crazy that anyone would think we're better without him. We're so much better when he's out there and so much more dynamic, so much more versatile when he's out there," said Jayson Tatum.
Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics drives against Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at the AdventHealth Arena, September 19, 2020.
In the two games they won, Miami drilled a total of 30 triples, despite that Boston allowed the worst 3-point rates by their opponents before the East Finals. In Game 3, Miami only made 12 shots from downtown at a 3-point rate of 27.27 percent. Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk combined were 3-19 from the 3-point line. Tyler Herro startled Boston's defense by going 4-5 from outside in the second quarter, but he missed all six attempts there in the second half.
3-point shooting was not the only thing Miami failed to do well in Game 3. Though their 2-3 zone defense had been very effective so far, they allowed Boston to break their front defense too easily on Saturday night. When Boston's players drove deep enough to drew help defense, they could pass the ball to open teammates that cut in from the baseline or challenging Bam Adebayo directly, which they began to do since the third quarter.