National Basketball Association
Jimmy Butler again displays playoff dominance, Heat win Game 1
National Basketball Association

Jimmy Butler again displays playoff dominance, Heat win Game 1

Updated May. 17, 2023 11:17 p.m. ET

Jimmy Butler put on his latest master class, as the eighth-seeded Miami Heat continued one of the wildest runs in playoff history, taking down the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, 123-116.

Butler, the leading scorer in this NBA postseason, scored 34 points along with seven assists, a playoff career-high six steals and five rebounds.

Trailing by nine at halftime, Miami turned the tables in the series opener in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 46-25 and opening up a 102-91 lead. The Celtics cut the lead to 114-110 with 2:30 left, but Butler drove the lane, got doubled and found Caleb Martin for a clutch triple. After back-to-back traveling violations by Jayson Tatum, who finished with 30 points but struggled down the stretch, Butler buried the dagger 3 from the right wing.

Miami moved to 3-0 in Game 1s in this postseason, all of them coming on the road.


Stat to know: While the Celtics outscored the Heat 62-40 in the paint, that’s not how the game got decided. This Miami team, ranking 27th in 3-point percentage in the regular season, has been in the top-five of the league in that department in the playoffs. On Wednesday, the Heat were as good as they’ve been, shooting 16-for-31 and outscoring the Celtics by 18 points from beyond the arc.

Play of the game: Butler sucking the life out of TD Garden with a cold-blooded triple with just over a minute left.

Up next for the Celtics: Joe Mazzulla said it in his interview during the broadcast: The Celtics lost their focus and took their foot off the gas pedal. You need 48 minutes to beat this Miami team. Boston really sagged off defensively and allowing 123 points is eye-opening. The other element? Late-game offense. Boston has to get Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the same page.

Up next for the Heat: Miami should not change a thing. They can go for the dagger in Game 2 and will play with house money. Just keep it close for Butler time. One big thing: keep getting Bam Adebayo involved offensively. He had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win and his activity inside rattled Boston.

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John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.


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