Former Miami Heat playoff hero drills crazy game-winner for his new team

Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers
Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Former Miami Heat guard Max Strus made a 59-footer as time expired to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to an improbable 121-119 win over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers trailed the Mavericks by 10 with 4:38 left but Strus caught fire, drilling four 3-pointers in 67 seconds to keep Cleveland in the game.

After the Mavericks took the lead on P.J. Washington's dunk with 2.9 seconds left, the Cavaliers quickly inbounded the ball to Evan Mobley, who passed back to Strus.

Strus ran up the right side of the court, took a dribble, and heaved a shot from behind Cleveland’s logo as time expired. The shot, officially listed at 59 feet, swished through the net. Strus was tackled to the floor by teammates and the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse crowd erupted for one of the most improbable endings this NBA season.

Former Miami Heat guard Max Strus made a 59-footer at the buzzer to lift his Cleveland Cavaliers over the Dallas Mavericks.

According to Basketball Reference, the shot is the second-longest game-winning buzzer-beater in the 3-point era. It is surpassed only by Devonte’ Graham’s 61-footer in the New Orleans Pelicans’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 15, 2021.

"At the end of the day, we have a guy like Max Strus," Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen said. "Anything is possible."

Strus finished with 21 points, most of which came in the final four minutes. His shot spoiled big nights from Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (45 points and 14 assists) and Kyrie Irving (30 points).

"Incredible shot,” Doncic said.

Heat fans are aware of Strus’ heroics. Over the past two seasons in Miami, Strus ignited from deep to save the Heat from elimination in last season’s second play-in tournament game against the Chicago Bulls. Strus erupted for 31 points in the win-or-go-home game. Had the Heat lost, they never would have had a chance to make a run to the Finals as the No. 8 seed.

In 2022, Strus had five points in the final 2:30 of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to give Miami a chance to eliminate the Boston Celtics and earn a trip to the NBA Finals. Strus could have finished with more points but, memorably, officials retroactively ruled that his foot was out of bounds on a 3-pointer in the third quarter and wiped the made 3 from the score a few minutes later. In a game that came down to a single shot at the end, that official decision was costly.

But those moments haven’t bothered Strus, who made the NBA after going undrafted out of DePaul and started Finals games for the Heat last season. He signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the Cavaliers last summer, and they are happy to have him.

"Max never quits," Bickerstaff said. "He just kept making play after play after play on both ends."