yesyour team was down eight points at halftime. Coach Erik Spoelstra came into the locker room ready to deliver a speech to wake up his team.Turns
yesyour team was down eight points at halftime. Coach Erik Spoelstra came into the locker room ready to deliver a speech to wake up his team.
Turns out it wasn’t necessary. Jimmy Butler decided to have him speak on the court.
Butler added 41 points, including 27 in the second half, and the miami heat turned around with a great third period en route to winning Tuesday by 118-107 to a decimated Boston Celtics in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals.
“Jimmy Butler is an elite competitor,” Spoelstra said. “There are a lot of guys in this league that play basketball. He competes to win. It’s something totally different and he does it better than anyone in this league.”
Tyler Herro scored 18 units and Gabe Vincent added 17 for the Heat, who outscored Boston 39-14 in the third quarter. Butler had 17 points in the third quarter, single-handedly outscoring the Celtics in those 12 minutes.
Boston made two of 15 shots in that third quartereither.
“We won three quarters. The exception was him, but obviously he was the one that mattered,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “We came close to coming back in the fourth quarter and started to play well again, matching his physical intensity. But it’s tough to get over 39-for-14 and 2-for-15 shooting.”
In addition to his 41 points, Butler had nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three tapped shots. Ever since the NBA started measuring all those stats, only five players have had those numbers in a single match -none in a playoff game. They are Anthony Davis, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Harden (twice).
“I kept playing. I shot when I was open and found the partner who was free,” Butler said. “But honestly, it was a collective effort.”
Jayson Tatum had 29 for the Celtics that did not have their headlines Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (sanitary protocols). Jaylen Brown added 24 for Boston, which had 18 from Robert Williams III and Payton Pritchard.
The second match is played on Thursday.
Boston had a 13-point lead. in the first half and went into the break up 62-54.
Miami entered the second half on a 22-2 run, capped off with steals that led to baskets on three consecutive possessions. Max Strus he had one and Butler’s next two led to a 76-64 lead.