Butler free-throws seal win as Heat take 2-0 lead on Bucks

MIAMI, United States (AFP) — Jimmy Butler, fouled on a potential game-winner at the buzzer, calmly made two free throws to seal the Miami Heat’s 116-114 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday to stretch their lead over the top seeds in their NBA playoff series.

The Heat took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series in the NBA’s coronavirus quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Goran Dragic scored 23 points — his sixth straight playoff game with at least 20 — to lead seven Heat players in double figures.

Tyler Herro added 16, Jae Crowder scored 16, Bam Adebayo 15, Butler and Duncan Robinson contributed 13 apiece and Kelly Olynyk chipped in 11 for a Heat team that led by as many as 13 in the first half and by nine with less than two minutes to play.

A Butler turnover resulting in a Brook Lopez layup saw Milwaukee close within 111-113 with 8.5 seconds remaining.

A Butler free throw stretched the Heat’s lead to 114-111, but Dragic was judged to have fouled Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton as he attempted a three-pointer and Middleton made all three free-throws to knot the score with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Butler’s shot as time expired missed, but officials said he was fouled by Antetokounmpo and he had his chance to win it at the line.

“I knew I was going to make one out of two, and that’s all we needed,” Butler said.

“We’ve got so many guys that can move, that can play that can impact winning,” he added. “I think all the way down the line our guys did that.”

The Heat are two wins away from reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2014 — when LeBron James still played in Miami.

Meanwhile the Bucks, owners of the best regular-season record in the league, are in danger of a second straight playoff disappointment after their loss to the Toronto Raptors in a 2019 Eastern Conference Finals series in which Milwaukee won the first two games.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged he was “disappointed” in the touch foul called on Antetokounmpo at the buzzer.

“As far as the clock was concerned the shot was released with time remaining, the foul occurred, I guess, some point when he landed,” Budenholzer said.

“We’re going to disagree, but we need to shift our attention to game three and get prepared for that and understand that’s the most important thing right now.”

© Agence France-Presse