When the Miami Heat traded for Jimmy Butler last summer, they viewed him as a player who could close games.
Butler did exactly that Tuesday against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. After keeping the Heat alive in regulation, Butler scored a three-point play with 12 seconds remaining in a 117-114 overtime victory in Orlando.
Game 2 is Thursday.
Butler finished with 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting. Goran Dragic had a team-high 29 points while Jae Crowder had 22 points and five rebounds.
Butler's basket put the Heat ahead by two but the Celtics had a chance to force another overtime. Jayson Tatum's attempt at the tying bucket was denied by Bam Adebayo at the rim. Adebayo hit one of two free throws on the next possession. Tatum then missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
The Celtics were led by forward Tatum's 30 points. Guard Marcus Smart finished with 26 points.
The Heat, who overcame three double-digit deficits against the Bucks, pulled off their late-game magic again. Despite a week off between series, the Heat looked like they were the team playing on a couple day's rest. The Celtics were coming off a grueling seven-game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the previous round.
The Heat opened by making one of their first 11 shots. After the slow start, the they didn't get it going until the second quarter. A Butler short jumper put them ahead 39-38 with 5 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first half.
The Heat, who are in the conference finals for the first time since 2014, followed a 37-point second quarter by scoring a playoff-low 16 points in the third. The Celtics used the futility to build a 12-point lead before Butler's 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining put them ahead one.
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