Jimmy Butler again displays playoff dominance, Heat win Game 1

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Jimmy Butler delivered his latest master class as the eighth-seeded Miami Heat continued one of the wildest runs in playoff history, defeating the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Game 1 of the Finals the Eastern Conference, 123-116.

Butler, the NBA’s leading scorer this postseason, had a career-high 34 points along with seven assists, six steals and five rebounds in the playoffs.

Trailing by nine at the half, Miami turned the series open in the third quarter, outscoring Boston 46-25 to open a 102-91 lead. The Celtics cut the lead to 114-110 with 2:30 left, but Butler drove the lane, doubled and found Caleb Martin for a clutch 3-pointer. After back-to-back traveling violations by Jayson Tatum, who finished with 30 points but struggled down the stretch, Butler buried the dagger 3 from the right wing.

Miami went 3-0 in the first game of this postseason, all coming on the road.

Statistics to know: While the Celtics outscored the Heat 62-40 in the paint, that’s not how the game was decided. This Miami team, which ranks 27th in 3-point percentage in the regular season, has been in the top five in the league in that department in the playoffs. On Wednesday, the Heat were as good as they’ve been, shooting 16-for-31 and outscoring the Celtics by 18 points from beyond the arc.

Game Play: Butler sucks the life out of TD Garden with a cold-blooded 3-pointer with just over a minute left.

Next for the Celtics: Joe Mazzulla said it in his on-air interview: The Celtics lost focus and took their foot off the gas pedal. You need 48 minutes to beat this Miami team. Boston really fell apart defensively and allowing 123 points is telling. The other element? Offense at the end of the match. Boston needs to get Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the same page.

Next for the heat: Miami shouldn’t change anything. They can go for the dagger in game 2 and will be playing with house money. Keep it close for Butler time. One big thing: keep getting Bam Adebayo involved offensively. He had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win, and his activity inside rocked Boston.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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