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Heat Swipe Another Game 1 on the Road in NBA Playoffs



Jimmy Butler and Marcus Smart | Photo Credit:
Miami Heat vs. boston celtics highlights | Video credit: National Basketball Association

Jimmy Butler scored 35 points, with 20 of them coming in the second half, and the Miami Heat would steal Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Boston Celtics, 123-116.

The Heat are now the fifth team to open with road wins in each of their first three playoff series, joining the 2021 Atlanta Hawks, 1999 New York Knicks, 1989 Chicago Bulls and 1981 Houston Rockets. The Knicks were the only other eighth-seed to make the conference finals in NBA history, besides this 2023 Miami team.

Butler would give much credit to his teammates during a postgame press conference.

“I’m playing at an incredible level because they are allowing me to do so,” Jimmy Butler said. “They are not putting a limit on my game. They are trusting me with the ball, on the defensive end. I think that’s what any basketball player wants.”

Miami was facing a nine-point deficit at halftime before turning it around with a franchise playoff-record 46 points in the third quarter, in addition to outscoring Boston 66-50 in the second half. Butler’s performance, it was his fifth game with 30 or more points this postseason.

Jimmy Butler’s full stat line of 35 points, seven assists, five rebounds and six steals… well only Michael Jordan had recorded that caliber of a performance in NBA Playoffs history, until Butler did so on Wednesday night.

“One of the premier two-way basketball players of this association, that’s what we needed. Down the stretch Jimmy was able to do everything we needed as a scorer and as a facilitator,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Bam Adebayo added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Miami. Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent all pitched in 15 points apiece, Lowry and Martin would do it off the bench. The Heat would also shoot a solid 16-for-31 from beyond the arc at a 51.6% clip, which Boston paled in comparison with at 34.5% from the three-point line.

“We lost our offensive purpose,” Celtics rookie coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Jayson Tatum would lead the Celtics with 30 points, but he would not even attempt a shot during the fourth quarter. Tatum would commit three turnovers and back-to-back travels in the final quarter, facing much criticism from Boston’s fans. Jaylen Brown added 22 points and nine rebounds of his own, while the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, chipped in 19 points.

Boston has posted an even 4-4 record at TD Garden during this years playoffs, Jayson Tatum could not come up with the answer for the Celtics home struggles in the postseason.

“I don’t know why, you’ve still got to play the game, you’ve got to make plays, regardless of whether you’re home or away,” Tatum said of their home struggles.

Game 1 of the series was the third time in four seasons that the Heat and Celtics have met in the conference finals, Boston won last year’s matchup in seven games, the Heat won the 2020 matchup in six.

Wednesday’s opening game seemed eerily similar to the past two playoff matchups between the two teams, it’s a real rivalry. Boston dominated inside the paint early on and led by nine at halftime. The Heat were outscored in the paint during the first half, 40 to 16, while they committed nine turnovers.

Miami would answer right back with a 13-1 run to quickly eliminate the lead Boston had, tying the game at 78 apiece in the third quarter. During the next timeout Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was visibly frustrated on the TNT broadcast, where he was seen throwing a clipboard in frustration of the Celtics faltering late.

Boston had no answer for the explosion of offense Miami sent at them. The Heat outscored the Celtics 46-25 in the third and took a 103-91 lead heading into the fourth quarter, subsequently receiving an eruption of boo-birds in the TD Garden arena. Those 46 third quarter points, they were a Heat franchise playoff record.

Boston would not lay down just yet despite giving up their lead, they would score the first seven points of the fourth quarter, which ended via a Gabe Vincent three-pointer for the Heat.

Miami led 114-109 with just over three minutes to play when Malcolm Brogdon was fouled by Jimmy Butler. Brogdon would only knock down just one of his two free throws. Butler was swarmed by Celtics defenders on Miami’s next possession before dishing out a pass to a waiting Caleb Martin in the corner for a three, and it would all unravel for Boston after that moment.

Jayson Tatum travelled on the next Celtics possession, which gave the ball back to the Heat. A Miami miss up the court would give the ball back to Boston again, but Tatum was called once again for traveling.

Miami would give Boston a slow but painful defeat by winding the shot clock down on the very next possession, before Jimmy Butler hit a three-pointer at the 1:03 mark. The Miami Heat would coast the rest of the way to a Game 1 victory, ultimately stealing home court advantage from the Boston Celtics.

“We are just playing really good basketball,” Butler said. “More than anything, we are staying together through the good and through the bad.”

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