Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 47 points, and forced the Miami Heat to win the NBA Finals showdown with a 111-103 victory over Boston on Friday.
The Heat tied the best of seven Eastern Conference finals 3-3 to set up a game seven meeting with the Celtics on Sunday in Miami.
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“We know what we are capable of. We have to get her back to bed and win Game Seven,” Butler said.
We knew we were going to come here and get one. We know we will win the next match as well.”
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Sunday’s winner will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals starting Thursday in San Francisco.
Butler hit 16 of 29 shots from the ground, 4 of 8 from a 3-point range, and all of his 11 free throws in 46 minutes while contributing nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a dead shot.
“Jimmy just brought in his competitive will tonight,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “She will not allow us to lose.”
Butler said such faith inspired the remarkable effort.
“My team, they have a lot of faith in me. My coaches believed in me a lot,” Butler said. “They gave me that confidence to just go out there and play basketball the right way and just hoop.”
Butler struggled with a right knee injury to score his fourth 40-point playoff game and thanked a message from former Miami star Dwyane Wade for inspiring him.
“He was telling me I could do it,” Butler said. “I banged the knee a little bit but no one cares. Go out there and keep building your legacy and that means the world to me.”
The Heat are seeking a second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons, after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Miami last won the NBA title in 2013.
The Celtics are seeking their first trip to the NBA Finals since losing the 2010 title to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics have not won an NBA title since 2008.
Jason Tatum topped Boston with 30 points, while Derek White got 22 points from the bench and Jaylen Brown added 20 points.
Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 10 assists for Miami.
Victor Oladipo scored seven points in 13-2 Miami for the third quarter giving the Heat the biggest lead of the game to that point at 70-58, although Boston narrowed the difference to 82-75 to enter the fourth quarter.
White sank a 3-pointer right-hand corner with 4:43 to play, capping the Celtics 10-2, giving Boston a 97-94 lead.
But Butler’s 3-point play with 2:06 left gave Miami a 102-99 lead and PJ Tucker followed with a steal, one rebound and three free throws to give the Heat a 105-99 lead with 1:25 to play.
Tatum hit a buoy for Boston but Butler responded with a long jump over a defender as the shot clock ended to extend Miami’s lead to 107-101.
Tatum fired two free throws, but Brown was called up for an offensive foul on Boston’s next possession, and the Heat threw the free ball across the field to claim victory.
“Basketball is generally dirty on both sides,” Celtics coach Emi Udoka said. “We can’t have that.”
Butler started strong
Butler scored 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and robbed twice in the first quarter to make Miami jump 29-22.
Tatum took a 7-0 lead in 88 seconds to drag Boston within 32-31 early in the second quarter and Brown threw two free throws to give the Celtics their first lead at 41-40, although Miami clinched a 48-46 advantage at the break.
Butler scored 21 points in the first half, while Tatum and Brown scored 18 each.
Miami goalkeeper Tyler Hero, the sixth man in the NBA, missed the third game in a row with a thigh injury.
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