NBA Playoffs: Jimmy Butler, Heat Take Game 1 Over Boston After Huge Third-Quarter Rally

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The are the latest team unable to find an answer to Jimmy Butler and the Heat.

The Heat, who initially looked outmatched on Wednesday night at TD Garden, surged in the second half and captured Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Butler scored 35 points and helped lead the Heat to a massive 46-point third quarter performance before Boston won 123–116.

After a stout first quarter to start the night, the Celtics finally pulled ahead in the second after a massive 20-5 run midway through the period. This gave Boston a 13-point lead before it had to settle for a nine-point advantage at halftime. While the Heat shot nearly 54% from the field as a team in the first half, and led by 15 points from Butler, they had nine turnovers to 19 Celtics points.

Jayson Tatum also had 18 of 30 points in the first half, and the Celtics held a large 40–16 advantage in points scored in the paint. Much of that came from center Robert Williams, who scored 12 points and didn't miss a shot from the lane in the first 24 minutes.

The Heat completely turned the game around to start the second half, and tied things up almost immediately after opening the third on a 21–12 run while shooting 9-of-13 from the field. This enraged Celtics coach Joe Majulla.

Miami didn't stop there. The Heat put up 46 points in the third quarter and outscored Boston by 21 in the period and suddenly took a 12-point lead, their largest of the game. They went 6 of 9 from behind the arc as a team and had only one turnover in the span. It marked the highest scoring playoff quarter in Heat history.

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While Boston cut the game back to five points in the first 94 seconds of the fourth quarter, and kept it there for most of the period, it was Caleb Martin who hit a wide-open 3-0 late before Butler followed with a wild bucket. Pointer drilled. on Malcolm Brogdon that sealed the seven-point victory.

Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Jaylen Brown added 22 points and nine rebounds, and Brogdon finished with 19 points off the bench. The Celtics, who swept the Philadelphia 76ers in their semifinal series on Sunday after a 51-point performance from Tatum, shot just 10-of-29 from the 3-point line as a team on Wednesday night.

Butler added seven assists, five rebounds and a playoff career-high six assists in a win for the Heat – who advanced to the conference finals after sweeping the New York Knicks 4–2. Bam Adebayo finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Miami shot better than 54% from the field as a team, and went 16-31 from the 3-point line.

The Heat were looking very solid in their sixth-straight Game 1 win. They now hold an early advantage in a series many did not expect them to compete in, especially considering where they started the postseason in the play-in tournament.

Game 2 of the series is set for Friday night. While the Conference Finals are still a long way to go, the Celtics don't want to stay in a two-game hole before they travel to Miami on Sunday.