Jimmy Butler loves soccer, and the final scene from Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals resembled a penalty shot in a shootout.

Only there was no goalie.

This was just a free throw, no time on the clock, nobody else from the Miami Heat or Milwaukee Bucks standing along the lane. Game tied, two chances to make one shot, the outcome completely in Butler’s hands.

“I wish I could kick it in there and say that’s how I won it,” Butler said.

Rattling home a free throw will have to suffice. Butler got the first one to bounce home, made a second one that was irrelevant, and the Heat grabbed control of their East semi-final matchup with a 116-114 win over the Bucks on Wednesday night – becoming the first No 5 seed to take a 2-0 series lead over a No 1 seed.


Jimmy Butler comes up CLUTCH at the line, putting the @MiamiHEAT up 2-0!

Game 3 ⏩ Fri. (9/4) at 6:30pm/et on TNT pic.twitter.com/CqJDwzVjuw

September 3, 2020

Butler was fouled by Giannis Antetokounmpo with no time remaining, the referees said, a call that was affirmed in a review after the initial whistle. The ball was out of Butler’s hands when Antetokounmpo clearly made contact.

“I’d say was disappointed with the judgment, the decision, the timing,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

It was a bizarre ending to, well, a bizarre ending.

The Heat were up by six with 27 seconds left and frittered that away, Butler giving Milwaukee two points with a most ill-advised pass a terrible IQ play, he acknowledged back toward the Bucks’ basket that turned into a layup by Brook Lopez.

That got Milwaukee within two, and Butler made one free throw with 7.7 seconds left to get the lead back to three. Khris Middleton was fouled by Goran Dragic a call Miami argued to no avail, because the Heat unsuccessfully used their challenge on a foul of Lopez shooting a three in the first quarter with 4.3 seconds left, and the All-Star made all three free throws to tie it.

Butler wound up with the ball in the deep corner, and Antetokounmpo the reigning Defensive Player of the Year contested.

“I feel like, personally, it was the right play,” Antetokounmpo said.

Then came the whistle, and that was that. Milwaukee couldn’t challenge the call; the Bucks used their review to overturn what would have been Antetokounmpos fourth foul on a charging call into Butler early in the fourth quarter.

“In the judgment of the officials, the foul occurred, I guess, at some point when he landed,” Budenholzer said. “In the judgment of the officials, there was enough to warrant a foul.”

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.

“Doesn’t take a genius to know that we were going to try to get that ball in Jimmy’s mitts and see what can happen from there,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was very patient. There were four seconds left. I think a lot of players would have rushed. He took his time.”

Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks. Middleton scored 23 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 apiece from 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 tthree-point try, made the first two free throws and the rebound of the third was controlled by the Bucks. Kyle Korver made a three-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 three-pointer by Crowder with 7:50 left.

They wouldn’t trail again.

But on a physical night – 71 foul shots were attempted, there were two flagrant fouls and a technical on a play where another flagrant was being considered – the Heat stood tallest at the end.

“You cant relax, you can’t get comfortable,” Butler said. “They’re too good of a team.”

source: theguardian.com


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