Miami Heat All-Star big man Bam Adebayo made one of the most memorable blocks in NBA history at the end of a 117-114 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night.
It’s a play that both saved the game for his team and earned him recognition from across the basketball world.
With the Heat clinging to a 116-114 lead as the final seconds ticked away in overtime in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Celtics All-Star guard Jayson Tatum drove down the lane past Heat swingman Jimmy Butler. Tatum pulled his right arm back to throw down a ferocious dunk, which would have tied the game and likely sent it into a second overtime.
That’s when Adebayo, who was watching the play from the opposite end of the paint, came racing over and jumped up with his left arm and blocked Tatum at the rim. It was a play that left Heat players and coaches beaming and set Adebayo up for a lifetime’s worth of highlights of the defensive stand.
“That can be a poster dunk and a lot of people won’t be willing or aren’t willing to make that play and put themselves out there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Jayson Tatum got into the launching pad, and [Adebayo] just made a big-time save for us. I mean, Tatum did have an angle, and it looked like he had an open lane to the rim, and sometimes when you have, you know, great competition like this, you just have to make plays that you can’t even really explain, and that was Bam tonight.”
BAM BLOCK ON TATUM TO CLOSE OUT GAME 1 pic.twitter.com/9taVNrAXjT
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 16, 2020
Said Tatum: “I was open. He made a great play. That’s all it is. He made a good play. Can’t do nothing about it.”
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson tweeted after the game that it was the best defensive play he had ever seen in the playoffs.
Adebayo called it the best play he has ever made in his career.
“No. 1,” Adebayo said. “No. 1. Playoffs, game on the line, No. 1 play.”
Butler also agreed with Johnson’s sentiment, speaking with pride about the young star who he has repeatedly called the “heart and soul” of the group.