Jimmy Butler’s stellar postseason run continued, and the Miami Heat still look nothing like a No. 8 seed.
Butler had 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds, and the Heat — a team that almost was eliminated in the play-in round — struck first in the Eastern Conference finals by topping the Boston Celtics 123-116 in Game 1.
Bam Adebayo added 20 points and eight rebounds. Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus all added 15 points apiece. The Heat went 16 of 31 from the 3-point line.
The No. 8-seeded Heat have opened all three playoff series with road victories. Game 2 is Friday in Boston.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points, but didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points.
Boston is just 4-4 at home during this postseason.
Butler is averaging 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals in these playoffs on 52% shooting. The only player to do all that in a single postseason while shooting at least 50% is Michael Jordan — who pulled it off twice. (That doesn’t count Kawhi Leonard, who did it this year but appeared in only two playoff games.)
Miami improved to 9-3 in the playoffs. The other nine No. 8 seeds in the last five seasons combined for a total of 10 wins.