Heat cruise past slumping Celtics

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. ā€“ Rappler.com