Jimmy Butler finished strong with 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Miami Heat strengthened their hold on the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 130-124 win over the host Boston Celtics on Sunday, May 9 (Monday, May 10, Manila time).
Despite Butler having only 4 points at halftime, the Heat managed to build a 26-point lead to help hold off the Celtics' fourth-quarter push. Butler also contributed 11 assists and 8 rebounds.
Duncan Robinson scored 22 points, Bam Adebayo added 20, and Trevor Ariza scored all but 2 of his 19 points in the first half for the Heat.
Miami (37-31) leads Boston (35-33) by two games for the final seed in the East that guarantees avoiding the play-in round. The teams will meet for a second straight game in Boston on Tuesday.
The Heat have won 5 of 6 and 9 of their last 12 games overall.
Evan Fournier scored a game-high 30 and Jayson Tatum added 29 for the Celtics. Kemba Walker totaled 18 points, while Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith chipped in 16 apiece.
Boston played without All-Star forward Jaylen Brown, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle he suffered last Sunday against Portland. Brown was listed as "questionable" before the game.
The Celtics have dropped 7 of their last 11 games.
Five Heat players scored in double figures at the break as Miami built a 79-53 advantage. Their first-half scoring output was its second-highest in franchise history and marked the most points allowed by Boston in any half this season.
Boston trimmed its deficit to 21 after 3 quarters before a Tatum layup with 5:25 left brought the Celtics within single digits for the first time since the opening quarter at 113-105.
A Walker floater with 4:51 to go brought Boston within 6 before Butler made his first three-pointer in nearly a month at the other end. The Celtics were unable to get their deficit below 6 in the closing minutes.
Celtics center Robert Williams was ruled out at halftime after re-aggravating his left foot turf toe. Williams finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds in 11-plus minutes. Heat guard Victor Oladipo (knee) did not travel for the two games in Boston. – Rappler.com