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31st SEA Games

Butler, Heat take Game 1

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JESSE D. GARRABRANT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS JIMMY Butler fires 41 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 118-107 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference finals series.

MIAMI (AFP) — Jimmy Butler scored 41 points as the Miami Heat produced a devastating comeback to defeat the Boston Celtics, 118-107, in their opening Eastern Conference finals series clash on Tuesday.

Butler led a revitalized Miami second-half display as the Heat transformed an eight-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead against a depleted Celtics side at Miami’s FTX Arena.

Trailing 62-54 at the break, Miami outscored the Celtics 39-14 in the third quarter to set up a victory that gives the Eastern Conference top seeds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Butler received scoring support from Tyler Herro, with 18 points, and Gabe Vincent with 17 points.

But the win owed as much to Miami’s renewed defensive effort in the second half, with the Heat shutting down Boston’s Jayson Tatum and forcing a series of crucial turnovers and 11 blocks throughout the game.

“The guys were just really disappointed at halftime,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“I barely needed to say anything. Everyone was just really disappointed at our defensive focus and effort,” added Spoelstra, praising the leadership of Butler during the third-quarter blitz.
“Jimmy just inspired everybody in that third quarter.”

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