Butler free throws tow Heat to 2-0 lead over Bucks

Associated Press September 03,2020 - 10:08 AM
Butler

Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro (14) and Jimmy Butler (22) react after the Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-114 in an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. | AP photo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida — Jimmy Butler made two free throws with no time remaining and the Miami Heat wasted a six-point lead in the final seconds yet found a way to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-114 on Wednesday night (Thursday morning, September 3, 2020, Philippine time) for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Butler rattled in the first, which was the only one that mattered, then made the second for the final margin. He got fouled by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo with about a tenth of a second left on a jump shot from the left corner.

Referees sent Butler to the line, with no one else on the lane, as some Heat teammates knelt at midcourt.

And just like that, the Heat became the first No. 5 seed in NBA history to take a 2-0 series lead over a No. 1 seed.

Goran Dragic scored 23 points, Tyler Herro added 17 off the bench and Jae Crowder had 16 for Miami.

Bam Adebayo scored 15 points, Butler and Duncan Robinson each had 13 and Kelly Olynyk added 11 for Miami — which is 6-0 in this postseason.

Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who were down by six with 27 seconds left and tied it. Khris Middleton scored 23 points for Milwaukee, the last three of those coming when Dragic was called for fouling him with 4.3 seconds left.

Milwaukee got 16 apiece from Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe and 14 from George Hill.

Miami’s lead was 90-86 entering the fourth — and Milwaukee had the lead back on the very first possession of the final quarter.

Middleton was fouled on a 3-point try, made the first two free throws and the rebound of the third was controlled by the Bucks. Kyle Korver made a 3-pointer off that rebound to cap a five-point possession for Milwaukee, which had the lead again for the first time since 14-13.

The Heat were undeterred. They scored 13 of the next 15 points to not only reclaim the lead, but push it to 103-93 on a 3-pointer by Crowder with 7:50 left.

Milwaukee shot 21 free throws in the first half to Miami’s 11 — but oddly, it was the Bucks who had players in foul trouble at the break.

Middleton got his third foul only 26 seconds into the second quarter and Antetokounmpo was whistled for his third with 4:17 left in the half. Both played for a bit more in the quarter, then were pulled with 1:07 left with the Bucks no longer willing to risk either of them getting a fourth so early.

The free throws were a big factor: Miami shot 55 percent in the half and made nine 3s, but the lead was just 66-60 at intermission.

Antetokounmpo was called for his fourth early in the third, when Butler took a charge — or so it seemed. The call was overturned after review, so the reigning MVP had the fourth foul wiped away.

And the physicality only kept rising. Adebayo was knocked to the floor multiple times in the third quarter alone, one of them reviewed to see if it met flagrant status; it didn’t, but that review showed referees enough to hit Butler with a technical foul.

Late in the third, Kyle Korver closed out too aggressively on a 3-point try by Andre Iguodala, who landed on his foot and turned his right ankle. A Flagrant-1 was called, Iguodala limped to the line to make two of three free throws, then limped away for evaluation.

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TAGS: Eastern Conference semifinals, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs

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