It was exactly one year ago Sunday when Jimmy Butler walked into the Miami Heat practice gym, took a seat on a makeshift stage and said he wanted to be part of the team’s next title run. He’ll have that chance.
The Heat are going to the NBA finals surprising many, perhaps, but not themselves. Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Butler scored 22 points and the Heat won the Eastern Conference finals for the sixth time by topping the Boston Celtics 125-113 on Sunday night.
“This group, more than anything, they just love to compete,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said during the trophy celebration.
The Heat won the series 4-2 and now, they’ll see LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the title.
Tyler Herro scored 19 points, Duncan Robinson and Andre Iguodala each had 15 and Goran Dragic added 13 for the Heat.
Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 24 and a career-high 11 assists, and Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker each scored 20 points for Boston who fell in the East finals for the third time in the last four seasons.
Miami were down by six early in the fourth before regaining control. A 6-0 burst – Herro had the last five of those points – tied it at 96. Boston took the lead twice more, with Adebayo answering both times, first with a dunk, then a go-ahead three-point play with 6:16 left. They never trailed again.
The Heat are the only NBA franchise with six finals appearances in the last 15 years. They’re seeking their fourth title. Game 1 of the final series is on Wednesday night.