Jimmy Butler had 47 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the Miami Heat forced the Eastern Conference finals to a decisive seventh game by beating the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Friday night.
Ten years after LeBron James scored 45 points in Boston to help the Heat avoid elimination in Game 6 of the conference finals en route to the first of their back-to-back NBA titles, Butler had 17 points in the fourth quarter to top him and send the series back to Miami.
With a victory at home Sunday, the Heat would advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.
In the most back-and-forth game of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead on Derrick White’s 3-pointer with under five minutes to play — the first time all series the lead has changed hands in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry answered with a 3 and then added two free throws as Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points.
Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before fouling out with 2:18 left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots, hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all 11 free throws.
Jayson Tatum had 30 points and nine rebounds and White came off the bench to score 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Boston. The Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.
Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 20 points, missing a pair of free throws with the game tied at 99 after Lowry fouled out. Brown fouled out himself on an offensive charge that was assessed after a challenge on a missed dunk with 13 seconds left and the Celtics down by four.
Miami guard Tyler Herro missed his third straight game with a strained groin, costing the team its No. 2 score. Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (knee) had been listed as questionable but were in the starting lineup.
Boston’s Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams III (sore knee) tested their injuries pregame and were also in the lineup.
Reporting by Associated Press.
Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.