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Kyle Lowry politely listened as Jimmy Butler shared the credit for Miami’s win in Game 6 until fellow All-Star took humility away and called his 47-point elimination-avoiding performance “decent”.
“It (expletive) is unbelievable,” Laurie corrected, apologizing for his language to the television cameras in the back of the room and pleading not to be fined by the league. “It’s unbelievable to have a guy like him next to me. I’ve played with some great players, and he’s one of the best.”
Butler scored 47 points – a high playoff and one of the best performances by an elimination player in NBA history – and forced the Heat to Eastern Conference Finals for the decisive seventh game by defeating the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Friday night.
Ten years after LeBron James scored 45 points in Game Six in Boston en route to the Heat’s first NBA title, Butler scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead and take the series back to Miami.
With a home win, the Heat will qualify for the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.
“This is the way it should be with these two teams,” Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said. “He should have gone through seven games.” “I am very happy that our group got the chance to compete in Game 7 in front of our local fans.”
The winner of Game 7 on Sunday will qualify for the NBA Finals against Golden StateWhich eliminated the Dallas Mavericks in five games Thursday night. Warriors striker Draymond Green said afterwards that he expected to play for the Celtics.
In the most straightforward home game of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead on the Derek White 3-pointer with less than five minutes to play—the first time the lead in every series had been changed in the fourth quarter. Lowry answered with a 3 and then added two free throws for Miami to score 11 points out of the next 13.
Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before losing 2:18 on the left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots–including 4 of 8 from 3-point range–and all 11 free throws.
“He got off the jump and made his mark on the game,” White said. “That’s exactly what he has been throughout his career, attacking constantly and doing what he’s doing to help his team win. We knew he was coming, and we have to do better in game seven.”
Jason Tatum scored 30 points and nine rebounds for Boston, and White came off the bench to score 11 of 22 points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics are trying to reach the Finals for the first time since 2010, two years after the new Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen won their 17th NBA title – a record since the Lakers tied.
“It’s no secret: It’s Game Seven, a trip to the NBA Finals, there’s a lot at stake,” Tatum said. “We know what’s at stake. We know how much this means to everyone.”
Jaylene Brown scored 20 points for Boston, missing two free throws, and tied the game at 99 after Lowry’s foul. Brown himself miscalculated in a reassessed charge attack after challenging a lost dunk 13 seconds left and the Celtics dropped by four.
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