The Miami Heat rallied in the second half to defeat the Boston Celtics 123-116 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night, led by Jimmy Butler’s 35 points, including 20 after the break.
Miami trailed by nine points at the half before coming back and outscoring Boston 66-50 over the remaining two quarters, setting a franchise playoff record with 46 points in the third. Butler had 30 or more points in his fifth postseason game, and he also had seven assists, six steals, and five rebounds.
“We needed one of the best two-way basketball players in this league,” said the coach. Erik Spoelstra, the Heat coach, remarked. “Down the stretch Jimmy was able to do everything we needed — as a scorer and as a facilitator.”
In addition, Bam Adebayo had 20 points and 8 rebounds. The other 15 points came from Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus. The Heat made 16 of their 31 attempts from beyond the arc.
All three of their playoff series have been won on the road by the No. 8 seeded Heat. Game 2 is on Friday in Boston.
With 30 points, Jayson Tatum led the Celtics, but he didn’t attempt a shot in the last frame. Jaylen Brown totaled 22 points and 9 rebounds in the game. 19 more points came from Malcolm Brogdon.
The Celtics, who play their greatest defence and get more shots off than their opponents, made 10 of 29 three-point attempts.
Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics’ head coach, claimed, “We lost our offensive purpose.”
The Heat and Celtics faced battle in the conference finals for the third time in four seasons at the start of Wednesday’s matchup. The last meeting was won by Boston in seven games.
The first meeting on Wednesday seemed just like a continuation of that most previous one. Boston started out strong inside and led by nine at the break.
According to Spoelstra, his squad was “more intentional” throughout the last 24 minutes.
Miami borrowed a page from the Celtics’ playbook and utilised a 13-1 run to rapidly close the advantage. Butler’s penetration helped Miami edge back in ahead in the third quarter.
The Heat led the Celtics 46-25 in the third and went into the fourth with a 103-91 advantage, drawing some jeers from the TD Garden crowd.
Boston retaliated, scoring the opening seven points of the fourth frame, but Vincent’s three-pointer put a stop to the run.
When Butler fouled Brogdon with little over three minutes remaining, Miami was up 114-109. However, he only made one of the two free throws. On Miami’s subsequent possession, Butler was pinned before connecting with Martin for a corner three.
Tatum strayed, handing the Heat the ball once more. Boston received the ball back after Miami missed, but Tatum was flagged for travelling once again. With 1:03 left, Butler hit a three-pointer for Miami after the shot clock had run out.
Butler took advantage of the Celtics’ early freedom by scoring 12 points in the first quarter.
Butler didn’t attempt another shot until 5:45 into the second period, an airball that resulted in a shot clock violation. Boston’s defence stiffened during this time. A few minutes later, his second try of the quarter ended in failure. He had 15 points going into the half.
The Heat were outscored 40-16 in the paint by the Celtics in the first 24 minutes, which was the most points Miami has allowed in a half all season. Additionally, Boston had an 11-2 lead in points for second chances.