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Playoffs 2020

NBA Playoffs 2020: What to watch for in Game 3 of Eastern Conference Finals between Boston Celtics and Miami Heat

The Miami Heat erased another double-digit deficit in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics had no answer for the Heat's zone defence again, marking the second consecutive game that they were able to stifle Boston into blowing a big lead.

With the dangers of trailing 3-0 lurking around this Game 3, the Celtics will have to come to play for a full 48 minutes if they're going to avoid digging themselves into a hole that no team has ever come out of.

Here are three things to watch in a massive Game 3.

The potential return of Hayward

For all the talk of the Celtics offence struggling to navigate their way through the zone defence of the Heat, we must remember they are missing one of their key playmakers in Gordon Hayward.

Often thought of as a scorer first, Hayward is an excellent creator off the dribble whether it be to score or facilitate. The addition of Hayward would go a long way to alleviating some of the stagnation the Celtics have suffered from on the offensive end.

MORE: Celtics need Hayward now more than ever

Averaging 4.1 assists per game across the regular-season, the 6-foot-7 Hayward would also give Boston's backcourt some added size to combat the Miami defence consisting of Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala on the perimeter.

Hayward has been upgraded to questionable on the latest injury report which does give some optimism that he could take the floor in Game 3.

Celtics turnovers and Heat points off turnovers

Celtics fans must have been tearing their hair out watching their team in Game 2.

While the Celtics dominated in stretches, turnovers continued to haunt them throughout the contest. Racking up 20 turnovers was just the beginning of the pain, with those giveaways costing them dearly down the other end.

Miami held an 26-10 advantage in points off turnovers in Games 2, a plus-16 differential in its favour in what was a two possession ball game.

Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart combined for 14 of those turnovers, well up from the nine they committed in Game 1.

For comparison, Boston averaged 13.8 turnovers and 15.1 opposition points off turnovers through the regular season, highlighting just how effective Miami was turning defence into attack.

This time of year you will often hear teams say they just need to play better for 48 minutes. It's a cliche, there's no doubt about that, but against Miami, it rings true. The Heat are now 10-1 in the postseason with their only loss coming in overtime. They play suffocating defence for the entire 48 minutes and if you don't take care of the ball they are going to make you pay.

The Celtics desperately need to limit their live ball turnovers if they are to pick up an all important win in Game 3.

Can Dragic keep this up?

To say Goran Dragic is enjoying his time on-court in the bubble would be an understatement.

Having already outduelled Indiana's Malcolm Brogdon and Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe in the first two rounds, Dragic has taken the early honours against four-time All-Star, Kemba Walker.

Dragic has seen a significant scoring bump throughout the postseason which has carried through the first two games against the Celtics where he is averaging 27 points on 46.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Regular Season Playoffs
PPG 16.2 22.2
3P% 36.7% 39.5%
TS% 57.3% 58.2%

Always a crafty ball handler, Dragic is shooting a scorching 52 percent on 2.7 pull-up attempts per game from three since the beginning of the series with Milwaukee, including a 4-for-5 start against Boston - he shot 37.2 percent on pull-ups during the regular season.

Starting in just three of his 59 regular-season appearances, Dragic was inserted into the five for Game 1 of the postseason against Indiana and has started in each of Miami's 11 playoff games in the bubble.

In the 73 minutes Dragic has been on the floor, Miami is posting a 119.0 offensive rating and 13.2 net rating. In the 28 minutes, he has been off the floor the offensive rating plummets to 93.1 and a net rating of -18.2.

Dragic is playing out of his mind right now and if he continues to do so, the Heat will like their chances of taking a 3-0 lead in the series.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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