Butler fires up, Heat take 2-0 lead in NBA east finals
Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler certainly doesn't lack for motivation, but his competitive urges rose significantly midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA eastern conference finals.
Boston Celtics reserve Grant Williams started chirping after sinking a 3-pointer to give his team a nine-point lead in Friday night's home match.
Fifteen seconds later, Butler made a basket and the two players literally went eye to eye. Both players were assessed technical fouls.
Less than four minutes later, the hard-charging Butler made back-to-back shots, including the tie-breaking basket with 2:33 remaining, as Miami took a 2-0 series lead with a 111-105 victory.
Butler enjoyed his straight stellar all-around game with 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals as Miami won in Boston for the second straight game to open the best-of-seven series.
Miami began an 18-4 run after the Williams 3-pointer, with Butler being the key man in the game-winning rally.
"He hit a big shot and started talking to me. I like that," Butler said.
"It makes me key in a lot more, it pushes that will that I have to win a lot more and it makes me smile. I'm a decent player. ... I don't know that I'm the best person to talk to."
Said Miami forward Caleb Martin: "We'll take Mad Jimmy any time. I could see it in his eyes that he was ready to go after that."
Martin also excelled, establishing a career playoff high with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting off the bench for the eighth-seeded Hea while Bam Adebayo contributed 22 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, and reserve Duncan Robinson chipped in 15 points.
The Heat are now in position to win the series without coming back to Boston. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Miami on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.
Jayson Tatum had 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for second-seeded Boston but didn't convert a field goal in the fourth quarter for the second straight game. All five of Tatum's final-quarter points came on free throws in the final minute.
Jaylen Brown scored 16 points but shot just 7 of 23 from the field for the Celtics. Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III had 13 points apiece.
Brown asserted that the series is not over.
"Both of these two games, they've been able to come out on top," Brown said.
"But who's to say we can't come out on top the next two games? We just have to be ready to play basketball. We can't lose our confidence. It's first to four, and it will sure make for a better story."