Jimmy Butler fought through traffic for the game-winning bucket with 12 seconds remaining in overtime as the Miami Heat edged the Boston Celtics 117-114 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night near Orlando.
Butler drew a foul on the play and made the free throw to put the Heat up 116-114. Bam Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s attempt to tie the score with 3.7 seconds remaining, and after Adebayo made 1 of 2 at the free throw line, Tatum missed on a 3-point attempt as time expired to seal the result.
“He made a great play,” Tatum said of Adebayo’s block. “That’s all it is. He made a good play, can’t do anything about it.”
Butler added, “That sealed the game for us. … (Adebayo is) a huge part to why we’re winning — I’ve been saying it all year long, and I’ll repeat it again.”
Goran Dragic led the Heat with 29 points with seven rebounds, Jae Crowder added 22 and sunk five 3-pointers, and Butler scored 20 for the Heat, who won for the ninth time in 10 playoff games. Adebayo had 18 points and nine assists, and Tyler Herro fell an assist shy of a triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists).
Tatum had a game-high 30 points with 14 rebounds, Marcus Smart scored 26 and Kemba Walker had 19 for the Celtics. Walker put Boston up 114-113 on a step-back bucket with 23.6 seconds left in overtime.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will take place Thursday.
“It was a great win. We’re up 1-0, but we got three more to get,” Adebayo said.
The Celtics led by 14 early in the fourth quarter before the Heat got within 101-98 on a Herro 3-pointer with 3:17 remaining. Boston went up 105-100 on a shot-clock-beating floater by Walker with 1:09 left, but Herro drained another trey at 1:02 to cut the deficit to two.
A Butler step-back three made it 106-105 Heat with 22 seconds left, but Derrick Jones Jr. committed a foul before the ensuing inbound pass to allow Tatum to knot the score with a free throw as the Celtics retained possession. Tatum missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to force overtime.
Boston led 83-71 entering the fourth after Miami was held to a playoff-low 16 points in the third quarter. The Heat went 1 of 8 from 3-point range in the period, undoing a scorching shooting performance in the second that had forged a 55-all halftime tie.
The Heat trailed by as much as 13 in the first quarter before outscoring the Celtics 37-29 in the second. Miami shot 68.1 percent in the second period, including 6 of 8 from beyond the arc.
“Gotta tip your hat off to those guys,” Smart said. “They executed very well down the stretch, we didn’t.”