Jimmy Butler leads Miami Heat to win over Boston Celtics in Eastern Conference finals opener
On Tuesday night, the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 118-107 in the first game of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
It was half the story for Heat, who came back alive in the third quarter, trailing by 8 in the first half and dominating the Celtics for the rest of the game. Jimmy Butler had 41 points, 9 rebounds and five hit assists, while Tyler Herro had 18 points off the bench.
Miami put pressure on the defense in the second half, making life difficult for Jason Tatum and Boston.
Tatum finished with 29 points (21 at halftime) while Jaylen Brown had 24. Boston will miss both ends of Marcus Smart (leg injury) and Al Horford (health and safety protocol COVID) while Horford may miss Game 2 in the league agreement, Smart might return for the Game 2.
With 8 points in the first half, the Heat led 76-64, scoring 22 points throughout the game, and only 2 points in the third quarter.
Butler had 17 points in the third quarter.
“MVP Jimmy did what he wanted to do. He held us on his back,” Heat defender Tyler Harrow said.
Game 2 of the Seven Games series takes place Thursday in Miami. The Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks play in the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday and will be the winners of each series in the June Finals.
The 40-point appearance was Butler’s fifth playoff appearance in three years with the Heat. The only player who has more is franchise Dwyane Wade with seven.
“I know what I can do, and I’m not doing it to get 40 points,” Butler said.
“I play like I win, and I get 40. If I get 40 and lose, I get disgusted.”
Boston star Jason Tatum had a quiet night. He had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 assists, but also 7 turnovers.
“In this situation, I need to get better,” he said. “I should have been more careful with the ball.”