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BBNBA: 4 former Wildcats set to play in NBA Finals after Heat move past Celtics

Good morning, folks. Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.

RECAP

Bam Adebayo blamed himself for the Miami Heat’s poor performance in Game 5, where the Boston Celtics were able to keep themselves alive in the series, down just 3-2 heading into Sunday night. In Game 6, Adebayo righted his wrongs, and he’s going to the NBA Finals as a result.

The former Kentucky Wildcat was unstoppable in a potential series-clinching outing. Adebayo exploded for a season-high 32 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and just two turnovers while shooting 11-15 from the field (the first Heat player since LeBron James to post those figures in a postseason game). He was cutting for beastly slams and knocking down 10-12 footers with ease all while operating as the hub of the offense as he has all season long. It was an all-night-long effort, too. Adebayo posted six points in the first quarter, 10 in the second, another six in the third, and finally 10 more in the fourth quarter, helping propel Miami to a 28-8 run down the stretch. The Heat led by just two points entering the final 12 minutes and at one point were down by six, but they went on to outscore the Celtics by 10 points during that span to secure a 125-113 victory. After closing out the series 4-2, Miami advances to its franchise’s sixth NBA Finals and the first since 2014. Here’s how we got here.

Both sides began the night trying to find their outside shot. It took Boston nearly six minutes of game time just to reach 10 points and Miami wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, either. About halfway through the period, the game really tipped off. The Heat made five consecutive triples to close out the first quarter while the Celtics countered with three of its own. Heading into the second period, Miami held a six-point advantage after all seven Heat players who stepped on the court scored at least three points.

Quarter number two was all about the young superstars: Adebayo and Jayson Tatum–Kentucky and Duke. Adebayo poured in 10 points while Tatum dropped in 12 of his own as the contest remained tight through halftime. A pair of Goran Dragic free throws right before the intermission gave Miami a slight 62-60 lead.

The Heat jumped out to an early run to start the third quarter, extending the lead to as many as eight before the Celtics brought it back. 14 combined points from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart aided Boston in keeping the game close as the fourth quarter loomed on the horizon. They carried that momentum into the fourth and final quarter.

For the first time all night, Boston began to control the tempo. They quickly rattled off a 10-2 run that gave them a six-point edge with about nine minutes remaining in regulation. But something clicked for Miami after that. The zone defense was impenetrable, Tyler Herro came alive, and Adebayo stepped in as the closer. After just eight points through the first three quarters, Herro popped off for 11 fourth period points while playing all 12 minutes. The rookie finished with 19 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Alongside Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, those three did not leave the game for the Heat in the final quarter. Miami would score 35 of the game’s final 52 points after falling behind 96-90, ultimately taking a 125-113 victory and a trip to the Finals.

Adebayo was easily the best player on the floor for either team and played with a sense of aggressiveness that we don’t often see from him. He’s obviously a constant physical presence inside but attacking the rim and hunting for points is not typically his style. I can only hope it starts to be.

Only four more wins left for Miami.

I’ll have a much more in-depth breakdown previewing the Lakers-Heat Finals matchup in the coming days, but we can at least quickly talk about how it’s going to be even more Kentucky-heavy than the Orlando Bubble already has been. Four players–Adebayo, Herro, Anthony Davis, and Rajon Rondo–will go head-to-head in the 2020 Finals, meaning a former Kentucky player will play a major role for whichever team comes out victorious. But it’s not just the players who boast a Kentucky connection. Miami Heat executive Pat Riley is the man behind crafting this Heat team and played four years of basketball for the Wildcats during the 60s before moving on to become a Hall-of-Fame head coach. On the other bench, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also has a Kentucky connection after playing for the ‘Cats in the mid-90s before moving on to coaching with Rick Pitino as his mentor.

It’s going to be all ‘Cats everything.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Bam Adebayo (MIA)125-113 W vs. BOS3211-15 (0-0)145102039
Tyler Herro (MIA)125-113 W vs. BOS198-13 (1-3)57005+934
Enes Kanter (BOS)113-125 L @ MIA31-2 (0-0)40000-117

NBA FINALS SCHEDULE

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

2 Comments for BBNBA: 4 former Wildcats set to play in NBA Finals after Heat move past Celtics



  1. 4everUKBlue
    11:21 am September 28, 2020 Permalink

    It was so good to see Jayson Tatum wearing his dookie cap at the losers press conference.



  2. Keets
    4:42 pm September 28, 2020 Permalink

    For those wondering, Vogel was a student manager and played JV at UK.