Jimmy Butler’s stellar postseason run continued, and the Miami Heat still look nothing like a No. 8 seed.
Butler had 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds, and the Heat — a team that almost was eliminated in the play-in round — struck first in the Eastern Conference finals by topping the Boston Celtics 123-116 in Game 1.
Butler is averaging 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals in these playoffs on 52% shooting. The only player to do all that in a single postseason while shooting at least 50% is Michael Jordan — who pulled it off twice. (That doesn’t count Kawhi Leonard, who did it this year but appeared in only two playoff games.)
Miami improved to 9-3 in the playoffs. The other nine No. 8 seeds in the last five seasons combined for a total of 10 wins.
“We played harder than them in the first half. And they outplayed us for one quarter.” — Boston coach Joe Mazzulla, after the Celtics gave up 46 third-quarter points and lost Game 1 of the East finals to Miami.