If the rest of the Eastern Conference finals goes like Game 1 -- which there is every reason to suspect it will -- strap in for a long, incredible series. The Miami Heat outlasted the Boston Celtics in Tuesday's Game 1, 117-114 in overtime, and there were plays being made all over the court in the waning moments.
To close regulation, after Jimmy Butler hit a tough corner 3-pointer to put the Heat up one with 22 seconds to play, Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. got whistled for a very questionable foul before the ball was inbounded on Boston's ensuing possession, which resulted in a technical free throw for Boston, which Tatum made before missing a long potential game-winning 3-pointer.
Had Miami lost, that pre-inbound call would've been heavily scrutinized.
Butler and Bam Adebayo didn't let that happen.
After Kemba Walker, who struggled from the field all night, stuck a step-back jumper to give Boston a one-point lead with just over 23 seconds left to play, Butler, once again, answered by muscling through Tatum for an and-one on the other end, completing the free throw for a two-point Miami lead with 12 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Tatum, who had probably waited a bit too long to make his move on the potential-game-winning shot in regulation, beat Butler off the dribble and found an open lane to the rim. He took off, cocked the ball back, and appeared headed for a thunderous game-tying dunk. Then Adebayo did this ...
Are you kidding me? Tatum was coming to throw that down with such force that this is what Bam's wrist looked like when he absorbed it:
Listen, I've been known to be a bit hyperbolic from time to time (OK, a lot of the time), but that has to be one of the best blocks, considering the circumstances, in NBA history. LeBron James' famous chase-down block in the Finals and, perhaps, Tayshaun Prince's chase-down block on Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals are the only better ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Even Magic Johnson couldn't believe his eyes.
Bam Adebayo’s block on Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt was the best defensive play I’ve seen ever in the playoffs!!!!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 16, 2020
"Those are habits and instincts where he's willing to put himself out there. That could be a poster dunk," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game, calling Adebayo's potentially game-saving play a "big-time save," per Mark Medina of USA Today.
Via Mark Stein of the New York Times, citing ESPN Stats and Info, Adebayo is the first player to block a potential game-tying or go-ahead dunk in the final minute of a playoff game since the advent of play-by-play in 1996-97.