Jimmy Butler had 47 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the intense heat forced the Eastern Conference Finals to a crucial game seven by defeating the Boston Celtics 111-103 Friday night.
Ten years after LeBron James scored 45 points in Boston to help the Heat avoid elimination in Game 6 of the Conference Finals en route to the first of their back-to-back NBA titles, Butler had 17 points to surpass him in the fourth quarter send the series back to miami.
A home win on Sunday would see the Heat reach the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.
In the game with the most back-and-forth of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead against Derrick White’s 3-pointers with less than five minutes left – the first time in the entire series that the lead changed hands in the fourth quarter . Kyle Lowry responded with a 3 and then added two free throws as Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points.
Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before fouling with 2:18 left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots and hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all 11 free throws.
Jayson Tatum had 30 points and nine rebounds and White came off the bench to score 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Boston. The Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.
Bostons Jaylen Brown scored 20 points and missed two free throws, with the game tied at 99 after Lowry fouled. Brown fouled on an offensive charge that fell 13 seconds behind and the Celtics fell behind after a challenge on a missed dunk.
Miami guard Tyler Herro missed his third straight game with a strained groin, costing the team their No. 2 score. Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring) and PJ Tucker (knee) were listed as doubtful but were in the starting lineup.
Boston’s Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams III (knee pain) tested their pregame injuries and were also in the lineup.
Associated Press coverage.
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