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Jimmy Butler Saved The Heat’s Season And Forced A Game 7 Against The Celtics

Thanks to one of the best performances of his career, Jimmy Butler and the Heat are headed back to Miami and will bring the Boston Celtics with them. Despite Game 6 taking place in TD Garden and Boston having a chance to secure a spot in the NBA Finals, the Heat were able to pick up a 111-103 win to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami came out and landed the first punch with their backs against the wall. Led by a monster first quarter from Butler — who had 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals after one — and a team-wide 5-for-8 clip from three, the Heat were able to lead by as many as 10 points during the frame and found themselves up, 29-22 after one.

While Boston’s big issue — turnovers — was prominent in the first, Miami turned it over one fewer time. The bigger issue was that beyond the seven points on 2-for-3 shooting the team got from both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics shot 6-for-17 from the field to start the game and struggled to get into a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

Tatum was able to get into a groove early on in the second, as he led the Celtics to within one point.

Ultimately, Boston was able to go ahead as Miami’s offense got stuck in the mud for more than six minutes. The Celtics saw themselves rip off a 13-2 run to open up a cushion of as many as four points, although the Heat were able to finish the half on a 6-0 run to take a 48-46 lead into the locker room.

While things were close right out of the break, Miami ended up going on the first huge run about midway through the third. Thanks to a 13-2 run, the Heat went up by 12 points on the road.

Boston was able to settle down and get things a little more manageable heading into the fourth. Miami led, 82-75, behind Butler’s continued huge game and a surprising resurgence from Max Strus, who hit three triples in the quarter after not hitting a single shot from behind the arc since Game 3.

Butler continued to give them hell, but somewhat-unexpected hero emerged at the start of the fourth for the Celtics, as a 5-0 run by Derrick White got them within striking distance.

Down the stretch the game went, and a familiar pattern would continuously pop up: The Celtics would look ready to get over the hump, at which point Butler would do something to create just a little bit of breathing room. But that pattern was broken with about five and a half minutes left, as Al Horford hit his first triple of the night to tie things at 94, Butler could not respond, and White canned a wide open corner three to give Boston its first lead since early on in the third.

Miami was able to get an answer on its ensuing possession when Kyle Lowry pulled up from deep to hit a three.

The teams had matching trips to the free throw line thanks to Lowry and Smart, but after Brown got fouled and missed both, Butler came down, converted a layup through traffic, got fouled, and converted. And with less than 50 seconds remaining, the dagger came on a turnaround jumper as the shot clock expired.

Butler was the game’s premier performer with 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and a block in 46 minutes of work. Lowry, who has been a shell of himself for much of the series, had a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. For Boston, Tatum’s 30 points and nine rebounds led the way, while White gave them 22 off the bench and Brown scored 20.

Game 7 between the Heat and Celtics will take place on Sunday evening. The game is scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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