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Butler, Heat topple Celtics to steal Game 1 of East finals

JIMMY Butler played a solid all-around game with 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 123-116 victory over the host Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Bam Adebayo recorded 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the Heat recovered from a 13-point, second-quarter deficit. Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent all scored 15 points apiece for Miami.

Jayson Tatum had 30 points and seven rebounds and Jaylen Brown added 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Boston. Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points, Robert Williams III had 14 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Smart registered 13 points and 11 assists for the Celtics.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night in Boston.

The Heat led 114-105 after Mr. Butler’s basket with 5:33 remaining before the Celtics scored the next five points. Mr. Martin halted a Miami scoring drought of 3:23 by burying a 3-pointer to make it 117-110 with 2:10 to go. Mr. Butler then made a 3-pointer that went in and out and back in to make it a 10-point game with 1:03 left and the Heat closed it out.

Miami shot 54.1 percent from the field, including 16 of 31 from 3-point range.

Boston made 51.9 percent of its shots and was 10 of 29 from behind the arc. Derrick White added 11 points for the Celtics.

Miami trailed 66-57 at halftime before outscoring Boston 46-25 in the third quarter to take a 12-point advantage.

The Celtics led 71-59 after Smart’s 3-pointer 65 seconds into the period before the Heat’s explosion began.

Miami used a 13-1 burst to tie the score. The Heat later went on an 10-2 push to move ahead 86-80 on a 3-pointer by Strus with 4:25 left in the period.

Mr. Butler’s 3-pointer made it 95-87 with 1:56 left and Strus capped the quarter’s 17-of-26 shooting performance with a 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds remaining as Miami took a 103-91 lead into the final stanza.

Boston fought back with the initial seven points of the fourth quarter to move within five but couldn’t catch the Heat.

Mr. Tatum scored 18 first-half points. The score was tied at 47 before the Celtics went on a 15-2 run to open up a 13-point lead with 2:08 left in the second quarter.

Mr. Butler scored 15 points and Mr. Lowry had 13 in the first half for the Heat. — Reuters

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