Butler shines as Heat overpower Bucks


Los Angeles (AFP)

Jimmy Butler scored 27 of his career playoff high 40 points in the second half as the Miami Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semi-final playoff series on Monday.

Butler carried Miami on his back down the stretch, scoring 13 of their final 16 points in the NBA's quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Butler is just the third player in franchise history with a 40-point game in the playoffs, joining LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Goran Dragic added 27 points as he helped the Heat clamp down defensively which set the stage for Butler's offensive heroics.

Game two is Wednesday in Orlando.

With 52 seconds left, Dragic made a clutch defensive play by stealing the ball from Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to preserve Miami's seven point lead, 111-104.

Bam Adebayo had 12 points and 17 rebounds and rookie Tyler Herro tallied 11 points for the Heat, who swept the Indiana Pacers in the previous round.

Miami found a way to contain reigning NBA most valuable player Antetokounmpo, who was limited to just 18 points.

Khris Middleton scored 28 points and Brooks Lopez had 24 for the Bucks, who also lost the opening game of their first round series before storming back to beat the Orlando Magic in five games.

The winner will face either the defending champion Toronto Raptors or the Boston Celtics in the NBA's final four.