NBA Conference finals: Butler guides Heat past Celtics for 2-0 lead

Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, including the tiebreaking basket with 2:33 remaining, as the Miami Heat took control of the Eastern Conference finals with a 111-105 victory over the host Boston Celtics in Game 2 on Friday night.

Victory enabled Miami to win in Boston for the second straight game to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with Games 3 and 4 being played in Miami on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.

Caleb Martin established a career playoff high with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting off the bench for the eighth-seeded heat. Miami’s Bam Adebayo contributed 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists and reserve Duncan Robinson chipped in 15 points.

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.

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Highlights of the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals

Miami began an 18-4 run after the Williams 3-pointer, with Butler being the key man in the game-winning rally.

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.

“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.”

The Heat connected on 45.7 percent of their shots and were 9 of 26 (34.6 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. Max Strus added 11 points for Miami.

Boston shot 46.8 percent from the field, including 10 of 35 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range. Derrick White had 11 points for the Celtics.

Robert Williams’ dunk gave Boston a game-high, 12-point lead with 10:35 remaining in the contest.

Robinson responded with two 3-pointers during Miami’s ensuing 10-2 spurt to cut the Celtics’ lead to 91-87 with 8:40 left.

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Butler and Grant Williams clashed and locked horns as Miami Heat came back to win Game 2

And after hitting a 3-pointer to give his team a 96-87 lead, Grant Williams shouted in the direction of Butler. He was then whistled for a foul on Miami’s next trip down the floor after committing a foul as Butler dropped in a short jumper with 6:22 to play in the game.

Words were exchanged and the pair went forehead to forward, spraying words back and forth before quickly being separated by their teammates and receiving double-technical fouls.

“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.”

Miami forward Martin added: “We’ll take Mad Jimmy any time. I could see it in his eyes that he was ready to go after that.”

After Boston pushed its lead back to nine, the Heat scored nine of the next 11 points as part of an 18-4 run. Robinson’s layup pulled Miami within 98-96 with 4:36 to play before Williams scored on a dunk with 3:52 left for the Celtics.

Adebayo made two free throws and Butler added consecutive baskets, including the go-ahead hoop as Miami went up by two. Strus split two free throws and Adebayo slammed home a rim-rattling dunk to make it 105-100 with 55 seconds remaining.

Tatum scored his first points of the fourth quarter by making three free throws with 49.3 seconds left. Gabe Vincent knocked down a jumper with 35.1 seconds left to give the Heat a 107-103 edge.

After Tatum made two free throws with 21.6 seconds to go, Vincent and Strus each made two free throws to seal it for the Heat.

Tatum scored 15 points in the third quarter as Boston turned a four-point halftime deficit into an 83-75 lead. The Celtics outscored the Heat 33-21 during the period.

Martin had 14 points before halftime as the Heat held a 54-50 edge. Tatum scored 14 in the half for Boston.