Heat vs Celtics score takeaway: Jimmy Butler drops 41 points as Miami pulls away in Game 1 win

The Miami Heat cruised to a 118-107 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night. It was a two-half story for the Heat, who came alive in the third quarter to come back from an eight-point halftime deficit and go on to dominate the Celtics for the rest of the game. Jimmy Butler had 41 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win, while Tyler Herro added 18 points off the bench for the Heat.

Miami increased the pressure on the defense in the second half and made life difficult for Jayson Tatum and Boston. Tatum finished the game with 29 points (21 in the first half), while Jaylen Brown added 24 points. Boston certainly missed Marcus Smart (out with a foot injury) and Al Horford (out in COVID health and safety protocols) at both ends of the field, and although Horford may miss Game 2 in league protocols , there’s optimism that Smart could return for Game 2 of this sprained right foot.

Here are three takeaways from Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and the Celtics.

1. Jimmy has buckets

Butler was unstoppable this entire game, but he really came alive in the second half where he netted 27 of his 41 points on the night. He did a lot of damage on the free throw line, where he racked up 17 points, as he excelled at baiting several defenders with his fake pump to get a free kick. But it wasn’t just Butler’s scoring that made the difference for the Heat, he did it with his game, his rebounds and perhaps most importantly his defense.

Butler finished the game with four interceptions, including three in the third quarter. There was a moment in this quarter when Butler came away with back-to-back steals that led to easy quick buckets, widening Miami’s lead and leaving the Celtics reeling after putting in a great first half performance. -weather. Butler also finished with three blocks, the last of which felt like a statement, as he stuffed Tatum on a 3-point corner attempt in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

On possession before that, Butler sank a midrange jumper on Celtics guard Payton Pritchard while staring him down while running in defense, as if to say “you can’t guard me.” Butler is right, Pritchard and everyone else Boston tried to stick on him couldn’t contain it and it culminated in an explosive performance from the Heat forward, who has now scored 40 or more points on three occasions in these playoffs.

2. Boston fell apart in the third quarter

Things really fell apart for the Celtics in the third quarter, as they were outscored 39-14 at halftime after leading by eight points after 24 minutes. Boston dominated the game for two quarters, as Tatum worked up 21 points in the first half, the Celtics generated 42 points in the paint and had 17 assists, showing great ball movement to start the game . But all that first-half success flew out the window, and the Heat not only closed the gap in the third quarter, they completely crushed them and took a 20-point lead.

Credit Miami’s defense, as the Heat smothered Tatum and ended Boston’s offense almost as soon as it passed halfway, but some of that had to do with the Celtics’ mental errors as well. Tatum racked up six turnovers in the third quarter as he moved away from what had worked for him in the first half and began to rely on foul hunting to get his points. It gave just five points to the superstar striker, who struggled to find his shot after a torrid start to the game.

But the blame can’t be entirely placed on Tatum’s shoulders for this third-quarter performance. For three quarters of the game, Brown was essentially a non-factor, and although he finished the night with 24 points, most of that production came in the fourth quarter when the Heat were already comfortably ahead.

The Celtics can’t afford to bring Brown to life with the game virtually out of reach, especially when the team has two starters in Smart and Horford. While Brown had 15 points in the fourth quarter to help stage a comeback attempt, it was too little too late for his heroism. Boston needed that production in the third quarter when Tatum was overrun and no one else could generate points. If Brown had a bigger third quarter than the two runs and 0 for 4 from the field he produced, maybe Boston didn’t sink into a 20-point deficit and would have had a real shot at the end of the game.

3. Vincent stepped in in Lowry’s absence

One of the Heat’s main storylines before Game 1 was how this team would handle the game against a defense like the Celtics without their starting point guard in Kyle Lowry, who is out with a hamstring injury. While Miami had gone 6-0 in previous games Lowry had played in the playoffs, the team had yet faced an opponent as dominant and versatile as the Celtics.

Well, that clearly wasn’t a big concern as Gabe Vincent put on an impressive performance and finished the game with 17 points, three assists, three blocks and two rebounds while shooting 50% from the field and 43% from depth. His third quarter performance was one of the reasons the Heat managed to take such a big lead, as he put up 10 points while playing all 12 minutes of the third quarter.

It’s not entirely surprising to see Vincent make an impact for the Heat, considering he showed some flashes of it in the second round against the 76ers, but I imagine few people predicted he would be the second-highest scorer among starters for the Heat tonight. It’s unclear when Lowry will be back for the Heat in this series, but in the meantime, Vincent has shown he can fill in for him when needed.

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