NEW YORK – Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 47 points in his career, and the Miami Heat beat Boston 111-103 on Friday, forcing a winner-take-all showdown for an NBA Finals berth.
The Hit’s best-of-seven Eastern Conference drew 3-3 in the final for a seventh-game clash with the Celtics in Miami on Sunday.
“We know what we can do. We can take it back to Cribe and win seven matches, “said Butler.
“We knew we were going to come here and get one. We know we’re going to win the next one. “
Sunday’s winner will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals starting Thursday in San Francisco.
Butler made 16 of 29 from the floor, 8 of 4 from the 3-point range, and all 11 of his free throws in 46 minutes while contributing nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and one blocked shot.
“Jimmy has brought his competitive will tonight,” said hit coach Eric Spoilstra. “And it is a wish that will not let us lose.”
This kind of belief has inspired great efforts, Butler said.
“My team, they trusted me a lot. My coaches have a lot of faith in me, “said Butler. “They give me the confidence to go there and play basketball the right way and just hoop.”
Butler struggled with pain in his right knee to make his fourth 40-point game of the playoffs, and thanked a message from former Miami star guard Dwayne Wade for inspiring him.
“He was telling me I could do it,” Butler said. “The knees are tied a little but no one cares. Go there and continue building your legacy and it means the world to me.
After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, The Hit seeks a second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons. Miami last won the NBA crown in 2013.
The Celtics want their first trip to the NBA Finals since losing the 2010 title to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics have not won an NBA crown since 2008.
Jason Tatum led Boston with 30 points, while Derrick White added 22 from the bench and Jillian Brown added 20.
Kyle Lori added 18 points and 10 assists for Miami.
Victor Oladipo scored seven points in a 13-2 Miami third-quarter run that gave the Hits the biggest lead of the game at that point 70-58, although Boston narrowed the gap to 82-75 as they entered the fourth quarter.
White smashed a 3-pointer in the right corner for a 4:43 game, capping a 10-2 Celtic run and giving Boston a 97-94 lead.
But Butler’s 3-point game gave Miami a 102-99 lead with 2:06 remaining and PJ Tucker gave Hit a 105-99 lead for 1:25 with a steel, a rebound and three free throws.
Tatum hit a floater for Boston but Butler responded with a long jumper over a defender as the shot clock ran out to extend Miami’s lead to 107-101.
Tatum sank two free throws, but Brown was called up for an offensive foul in the next possession of Boston and extended a free throw to seal the hit victory.
“Overall sloping basketball on both ends,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “We can’t have it.”
Butler started strong
Butler had 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in the first quarter as Miami led 29-22.
Tatam pulled Boston to 32-31 early in the second quarter, scoring 7-0 in 88 seconds, and Brown smashed two free throws to give Celtic their first lead at 41-40, although Miami took a 48-46 lead at halftime.
Butler had 21 points in the first half and Tatum and Brown each scored 18.
Miami guard Tyler Hero, the NBA’s sixth-man of the year, missed the third game in a row due to a groin injury.
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