Jimmy Butler scored 17 of his 41 points in the third quarter to help the host Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 118-107 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night, May 17. (Wednesday, May 18, Manila time).
Butler also had 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocked shots in the second quarter to help Miami overcome a 13-point deficit. In the third quarter, the Heat outscored Boston 39-14 to take a 93-76 advantage into the fourth.
Tyler Herro had 18 points and 8 rebounds for Miami, while Gabe Vincent had 17 points.
The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals. Boston was led by Jaylen Brown’s 24 points and 10 rebounds, Robert Williams III’s 18 points, and 9 rebounds, and Payton Pritchard’s 18 points.
Game 2 will take place in Miami on Thursday night.
Marcus Smart, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Al Horford were both out due to injuries (COVID-19 protocol). Williams took Horford’s position in the starting lineup after a four-game layoff due to a left knee injury.
For the eighth time in nine games, the Heat were without Kyle Lowry (left hamstring).
Miami’s Max Strus had 11 points and Bam Adebayo had 10 points and four blocked shots. The Heat shot 48.8% from the field, including 10-of-30 from beyond the arc.
Boston shot 45.6 percent from the floor and 11-of-34 from the three-point range.
Miami opened the third quarter with a 22-2 burst to turn an eight-point halftime deficit into a 76-64 lead. Boston didn’t make a field goal for the first 7:07 of the period.
After the Celtics scored nine straight points to move within three, the Heat finished the quarter with a 17-3 surge to hold the 17-point edge. Boston shot just 13.3% (2-of-15) from the field in the period.
Herro was fouled while shooting a three-pointer and made all three free throws to give Miami a 96-76 lead with 10:45 left in the contest. Boston answered with 10 straight points and pulled within 96-86 on two free throws by Grant Williams with 8:21 remaining.
The Heat led by 13 after a three-pointer by Strus with 3:18 left, but the Celtics scored 8 of the next 10 points, with Pritchard’s trey pulling Boston within 114-107 with 1:29 left.