Jimmy Butler had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the No. 8-seeded Miami Heat kept rolling after barely reaching the postseason, beating the New York Knicks 108-101 Sunday in Game 1 of the NBA semifinals. Eastern Conference.
Gabe Vincent scored 20 points for the Heat, who became the sixth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 when they ousted Milwaukee in the first round and continue to look nothing like a team that needed to win a playoff game. in just to get the final postseason berth in the East.
They averaged 124 points in that series behind Butler’s 37.6 per game, but they pulled this one off with dated defense and rebounding that have always worked so well for them this time of year.
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RJ Barrett scored 26 points and Jalen Brunson had 25 for the fifth-seeded Knicks, who are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They started strong and led most of the first half, but the Heat finally got the upper hand. advantage. The Madison Square Garden crowd grew quieter and quieter as the game progressed.
Game 2 is Tuesday night.
The Knicks were without All-Star forward Julius Randle because of a sprained left ankle and surely missed him when transition points ran out and it became a half-court game.
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They could have used their shooting on a day when they went 7-of-34 from behind the arc, missing an opportunity to open the game early and then hampering any chance of a comeback.
The Heat trailed by 12 points in the second quarter, but that wasn’t going to faze a team that overturned deficits of 15 and then 16 points in the past two games against Milwaukee. They gradually cut the deficit before halftime, outscored the Knicks on a 21-5 run in the third quarter, and built a double-digit lead into the fourth.
They did it without the kind of big performances Butler delivered in the first round, when he had 56 and 42 points in the final two games. He did a lot of other things that he needed, including staying in the game after an ankle injury left him limping to the foul line with 5:05 left.
It gave the Heat a head start in a renewal of what was once a fierce rivalry, with the teams facing off four straight years from 1997-2000. The Heat have won the last three of those, but they’ve got work to do if they’re going to take this one.
Getting Randle back would be a good start. He reinjured his ankle in Game 5 against Cleveland after missing the last five games of the regular season and hadn’t done much since the Knicks returned to practice. He did a workout before the game, but the Knicks ruled him out about 45 minutes before kickoff.
The Knicks went on a 22-6 run to end the first quarter and take a 32-21 lead. Six straight points moved him to a 12-point lead, and the Knicks kept the margin in around double digits most of the second quarter, leading by 10 with less than 2 minutes left. But the Heat finished strong and cut it to 55-50 at halftime.
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New York led 61-53 early in the third before Kevin Love converted a three-point play to spark Miami’s 21-5 run. He added a 3-pointer during it, but his biggest contribution came with his walkout pass. With new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers sitting courtside, Love fired three long passes for touchdowns, with Butler’s basket on the last capping the run and giving the Heat a 74-66 lead. .
Heat: Kyle Lowry scored 18 points. Bam Adebayo was 16.
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Knicks: Randle originally got hurt against the Heat in a win at MSG on March 29. Earlier that month, he capped a 43-point performance with a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining in a 122-120 victory at Miami. … Quentin Grimes had four points off the bench after missing the past two games against Cleveland with a bruised right shoulder. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau opted to keep Josh Hart in the starting lineup.