Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler (22) drives into Indiana Pacers’ T.J. Warren (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Butler’s first postseason series with the Miami Heat was like none other in his career — a 4-0 win. The Heat are off to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2016, after ousting the Indiana Pacers in their first-round matchup.
“Just another way to advance,” Butler said. “As long as we get to four, I don’t care if it was Game 7. As long as we advance and go on to the next round, I’m happy. But I’m happy I got to get my first sweep with this group of guys. I think that’s special.”
Butler had been in 10 playoff series before now with Chicago, Minnesota and Philadelphia. Those teams won only three of those matchups, never getting past the second round. That’s what helped pave the way for Butler to find a new home in 2019, when he made his way to Miami to continue chasing a title.
So far, so good. The fifth-seeded Heat controlled the series against the fourth-seeded Pacers, trailing for a total of 11 seconds after halftime in the four games combined.
And they pulled the sweep off with balance. The Heat had five players — Goran Dragic (22.8), Butler (19.8), Tyler Herro (16.5), Bam Adebayo (15.0) and Duncan Robinson (12.5) — average double digits in scoring in the series, and Jae Crowder was one point away from joining them.
“We love when other guys are successful,” Butler said. “We hype them up. We tell them to keep attacking. If you’re getting stops, keep getting stops. That’s the way basketball should be played. You should have fun. You should enjoy the game. You can see that in how we play.”
What they’ll enjoy for a few days — and what Butler, who played through an ailing shoulder Monday, needs — is some well-deserved rest.
The earliest Miami will play again is Friday. The Heat will meet the winner of the Milwaukee-Orlando series in the East semifinals; the Bucks lead that first-round matchup 3-1, with the potentially clinching Game 5 set for Wednesday.
“It’s important for any team, but we have some veteran guys and they’re professional so they know how to take care of themselves — but yeah, we could use a couple days,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
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