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Jimmy Butler, Heat topple Celtics to steal Game 1 of East finals

19 de Mayo de 2023 a las 05:28

Photo courtesy of Adam Glanzman, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA, AFP


Article by Field Level Media


Toronto. - Jimmy Butler carried the Miami Heat during the first two rounds of the postseason, and the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals was no different.


Butler played a solid all-around game on Wednesday, racking up 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds while leading the Heat to a 123-116 victory over the host Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.


Butler raised his 2023 postseason average to 31.5 with his fifth 30-point effort in 11 games. He stopped short of saying he is playing better than ever but asserted the Miami coaching staff has set him up for success.


"I'm playing at an incredible level because they are allowing me to do so and not putting a limit on my game," Butler said. "They are trusting me with the ball and on the defensive end, and I think that's what any basketball player wants. What anyone wants in life is to be wanted, to be appreciated and just let you go out there and rock."


Butler and the Heat were doing most of the rocking -- particularly during a 46-point third quarter -- while delivering the opening salvo in the best-of-seven series.


Bam Adebayo recorded 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the Heat recovered from a 13-point, second-quarter deficit. Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent all scored 15 points for Miami.


Jayson Tatum had 30 points and seven rebounds and Jaylen Brown added 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Boston. Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points, Robert Williams III had 14 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Smart registered 13 points and 11 assists for the Celtics.


Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night in Boston.


Letting a double-digit lead get away at home was disappointing to Tatum.


"We're going to watch film and talk about it," Tatum said. "We'll discuss the things we did well and the things we can do better and come out and execute better on Friday."


The Heat led 114-105 after Butler's basket with 5:33 remaining before the Celtics scored the next five points. Martin halted a Miami scoring drought of 3:23 by burying a 3-pointer to make it 117-110 with 2:10 to go.


Butler then made a 3-pointer that went in and out and back in to make it a 10-point game with 1:03 left, and the Heat closed it out.