Tagged in: jimmy butler

Celtics roll past Heat 127-102, tie Eastern finals at 1-1

Jayson Tatum scored 27 points, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown each had 24 and the Boston Celtics dominated the first half to roll past the Miami Heat 127-102 on Thursday night and tie the Eastern Conference finals at a game each.

Smart was a rebound shy of a triple-double, after adding 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Grant Williams scored 19 points for Boston, which used a 17-0 run late in the first quarter — fueled by five 3-pointers in the span of six possessions — to take control. Payton Pritchard and Al Horford each had 10 for the Celtics.

Jimmy Butler had 29 points in 32 minutes for Miami, which fell to 7-1 at home in these playoffs. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladpio each scored 14 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 for the Heat.

The Celtics — now 4-0 in these playoffs in the game immediately following a loss — made 20 shots from 3-point range to Miami’s 10. Game 3 is Saturday in Boston.

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And the margin could have been worse: Boston led by as many as 34 points in the fourth, putting this game on the cusp of really good Celtics history and really bad Heat history.

The Celtics’ record for biggest postseason victory ever is 40, the Heat record for biggest postseason loss ever is 36, and those numbers were within reach before a meaningless Miami run over the final moments.

Boston trailed by 10 in the first quarter, then outscored Miami 60-21 over the next 18 minutes — a 39-point turnaround that wound up leading to a 70-45 halftime lead.

The 25-point halftime lead was the biggest by the Celtics in any road playoff game, topping a 22-point edge at the break at Chicago in 2009.

Brown had 11 points in the first quarter, when the Celtics went 9 for 11 from 3-point range.

Tatum then had 17 points in the second and Boston kept pulling away, on a day where everything went the Celtics’ way.

They learned earlier in the day that two starters — Horford (virus-related issues) and Smart (mid-foot sprain) — were cleared to play in Game 2 after missing the series opener.

“I got to get my rest, got to get my health back, got to watch and see some things and come out and execute in this game,” Smart stated.

And the good news kept coming well into the night.

Butler did all he could to try and manufacture a comeback, scoring 16 points in the third quarter and getting the Heat within 17. But a 12-2 run late in the quarter by the Celtics restored a 27-point edge.

The lead was 96-71 going into the fourth and the outcome was never remotely close to being in question the rest of the way.

Miami didn’t even use its starters in the fourth quarter.

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Spoelstra, Udoka have Heat and Celtics ready for East finals

There is enormous respect between those men, who have known one another for decades and have deep ties. Spoelstra coaches the Miami Heat, Udoka is in his first season coaching the Boston Celtics, and one of them will be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Game 1 of the East title series is Tuesday night, the top-seeded Heat playing host to the second-seeded Celtics.

“We have great respect for what they’ve done during the regular season, to develop the right habits,” stated Spoelstra, now in his 14th season after taking over as Miami coach for Hall of Famer Pat Riley. “And like I said, this is the way it should be — the two teams that played most consistently at the top of the East for most of the year, and we’re meeting in the conference finals to figure it out.”

The Heat needed five games to get past Atlanta in Round 1, then six games to oust Philadelphia in the East semifinals. Boston swept Brooklyn in Round 1, then ended Milwaukee’s reign as NBA champions by finishing off a seven-game series victory in the other East semi that ended Sunday.

It’s a rematch of the 2020 East finals, held in the restart bubble at Walt Disney World, when Miami topped Boston 4-2 to earn a berth in the NBA Finals. That was the third East finals loss in a four-year span for members of the Celtics — and many of the players from some of or all those defeats, like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, are Boston’s core today.

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“This is the group I feel like is poised enough to get it done,” Brown said. “I feel like everything that we’ve overcome — all these battles and challenges and adversity we’ve been through this season, as well as the challenge that we just had overcoming the defending champions — I think that we are prepared. I think we’re ready to take that next step. We’ve just got to go out and take it.”

For its part, Miami — seeking a seventh trip to the NBA Finals and what would be a sixth in the last 12 seasons — isn’t looking back at the bubble win or much of anything else, All-Star forward Jimmy Butler insisted.

“We just want to focus in on today, right now, the group of guys that we get to go to war with every single day,” Butler said.

So, players might not look back.

It’s a little different for the coaches.

Udoka remembers meeting Spoelstra when he was a kid — at 44, Udoka is seven years younger than Spoelstra — and watching him play in pro-am runs alongside other Portland basketball legends like Damon Stoudemire.

Udoka played against Spoelstra-coached Heat teams four times before becoming a coach, spending the bulk of his years as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

Hence, the Olympic ties they share: Popovich was USA Basketball’s coach in the last Olympic cycle, and asked Udoka and Spoelstra to be part of his circle of confidants for that journey.

“He’s always had success,” Udoka said of Spoelstra. “One of the best coaches in the league, in my opinion. It’ll be a task for us because he has his team well-prepared, hard-fought, Heat Culture mentality. I got to know him on a more personal level in that time spent in Tokyo in preparations for the Olympics, but I’ve known Erik for a while.”

They’ll know each other a little better after the next couple weeks.

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Heat hold off Hawks 97-94, reach Eastern semifinals

If one play could tell the story of a five-game series, consider this one: Trae Young’s final shot from the field was a corner 3-point try that he rushed because he knew a defender was coming his way.

The shot bounced off the side of the backboard.

Take a bow, Miami. Even without Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, defense carried the day — and carried the Heat into the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Victor Oladipo scored 23 points, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Heat moved into Round 2 of the playoffs by eliminating Young and the Atlanta Hawks 97-94 on Tuesday night.

“The biggest thing about this game was our defense,” Adebayo said. That was, and is, Miami’s plan. The Heat swarmed Young from the start of Game 1 to the end of Game 5, holding Atlanta’s high-octane scorer to a 15.4-point average in the series on 32% shooting. Young had as many assists as he had turnovers — 30 of each.

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“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said. “Their team is more of a system than who they have on their team. No matter who they have out there, they can play. … And when they’ve got a guy that they’re targeting and trying to take away, they do a really good job of doing that.”

Tyler Herro scored 16, Max Strus scored 15 and Caleb Martin added 10 for the top-seeded Heat, who got the clincher with Butler and Lowry sitting out with injuries.

Young went 2 for 12 from the floor, scoring just 11 points. De’Andre Hunter scored 35 for Atlanta, which got 12 apiece from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari.

“Obviously, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” Young stated.

Hunter fouled out with 41.6 seconds left, Miami clinging to a three-point lead at the time. The Hawks got a stop, taking over with 29.2 seconds remaining, and retained possession after a missed shot from Gallinari went out of bounds off Miami.

The Hawks never got another shot off, time expired and Miami moved on.

“They are a hell of a team,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Those guys compete every second that they’re out on the floor and I have a great deal of respect for how they play.”

Onyeka Okongwu’s three-point play got Atlanta within 79-76 early in the fourth, the Hawks clawing back after being down by as many as 15.

But Herro hit a high-arcing jumper from the lane, Miami got a stop, and Oladipo hit a left-wing 3 on the next Heat possession to push the lead back to eight with 7:29 left. That’s how the final minutes went: Atlanta made a charge, Miami would hold it off, all the way to the end.

And now, the Heat get nearly a week off before facing either Philadelphia or Toronto in the East semis. Game 1 will be Monday in Miami.

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Butler leads Heat to 4th straight win, 116-108 over Raptors

Jimmy Butler went to the foul line in the final moments of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, talking and smiling the entire time.

There’s a lot for Butler and the Miami Heat to be happy about right now.

Butler scored 27 points, 14 of them in the final quarter, and the Heat won their fourth straight game by topping the Toronto Raptors 116-108 on Wednesday night.

Butler also had 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, plus a season-high three 3-pointers — two of them in the final minutes. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, Duncan Robinson added 17 points and Goran Dragic scored 15 in his return from an ankle injury.

“We’re just out there having fun,” Adebayo said.

It was the eighth win in the last 11 matches for the Heat, who started the season 7-14.

“Everybody that played really contributed at different points in the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And then Jimmy’s game was the quintessential, all-around winning basketball game.”

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Kyle Lowry, returning from a thumb injury, scored 24 for Toronto. 

Fred VanVleet also had 24 for the Raptors, Norman Powell scored 17 and OG Anunoby had 14 for Toronto.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse stated. “I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets. … The ball just bounced their way a lot.”

Powell made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to get Toronto within 100-98 before Butler had the game’s next three plays of any significance — a 3-pointer, a steal on the ensuing possession and a layup to push Miami’s lead back to seven.

Another 3-pointer by Butler with 3:23 left restored the seven-point edge, and Miami kept the lead the rest of the way.

“He’s our leader and we need him,” Dragic said.

Lowry scored 12 of Toronto’s first 20 points in the opening 6½ minutes, and he made a 31-footer over Miami’s zone midway through the second quarter to tie it at 48.

The next 2:51 belonged to Miami.

The Heat went on a 17-2 spurt in that time, six players scoring during the run, to open a 15-point lead and took a 66-56 edge into halftime.

Toronto scored the first 10 points of the second half, erasing the deficit, but a 17-6 answer by the Heat helped them take a 92-85 lead into the fourth. And the Raptors never led at any point in the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“It was fun to be back out there with the fellas,” said Lowry, who acknowledged that his thumb was hurting at times after contact Wednesday. “We gave it a tough fight, but we didn’t pull it out at the end.”

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Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo agree to 5-year max extension

The Miami Heat and Bam Adebayo have agreed to a five-year max extension, Adebayo’s agent, Alex Saratsis, told ESPN’s Zach Lowe on Tuesday.

The deal contains escalator clauses that can take its total to $195 million over five years, Saratsis told ESPN. The contract has not been signed and won’t be until Adebayo finalizes a physical, something that is likely to occur in the next few days.

It will be the richest contract in terms of total value in Heat franchise history, surpassing Jimmy Butler’s $141 million deal from last offseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“This is an accomplishment I always wanted to get,” Adebayo stated. “Just being able to reach this milestone and being able to generationally change my family’s life and also take care of the people around me, it’s a big deal to me.”

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Adebayo will make $5.1 million this season, the final year of his rookie contract.

From there, the extension will kick in with a starting salary of somewhere around $28.1 million for the 2021-22 season. And if he makes an All-NBA team or wins another top leaguewide honor this season, his annual salary would only increase.

“It’s another challenge I’m willing to take on,” Adebayo said. “I’m all about helping this team win. If my individual accolades help, then I’m for sure in.”

The Heat had until Dec. 21 to agree with Adebayo on an extension or else would have had to table the matter until next summer. Miami has stated the team’s intention was to give Adebayo a new deal — the only question was when. By waiting until next summer, the Heat would have had more salary-cap flexibility.

Adebayo is coming off what was by far the best season of his career. He was an All-Star for the first time, won the skills competition at All-Star Weekend, had the game-saving block of a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt in the final seconds of Miami’s Game 1 win over Boston in the Eastern Conference finals and made the NBA All-Defensive Team.

When this deal is done, he’ll become the fourth member of the 2017 NBA draft class to secure a max extension; the others were Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Tatum.

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Lakers take game 1 of Finals, top Heat

The Lakers defeated the Heat, 116-98, to take an early series lead.

Los Angeles led by as much as 32 points during the match. Miami gave the Lakers a tiny scare in the final quarter, cutting the lead down to 12 points but Los Angele was ultimately able to overcome.

Anthony Davis led the way with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists. LeBron James nearly got another triple-double. He concluded with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

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It was the three-point shooting that was the key.

Los Angeles at one point was 13-for-20 from beyond the arc. They ended 15-for-38 as they started to take their foot off the gas pedal. On the other side, Miami was 11-for-35 from deep.

Miami didn’t get much from its young players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Herro had 14 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Robinson was 0-for-3 from deep. Those were the only shots he took.

The Heat also got hit with the injury bug. Goran Dragic left the game with what was being called a foot injury. Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter with a shoulder strain and Jimmy Butler twisted his ankle and wasn’t the same. He ended with 23 points – leading the Heat.

The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career accomplishments, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday.

He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.

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