Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler eliminated any doubt he was a primary player.
On Monday, Butler scored a career playoff-high 40 points in the Heat's 115-104 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Heat lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.
"It doesn't tell us anything that we don't know already," Butler said. "... We can compete with anybody."
Butler shot 13 of 20 from the field and made 12 of 13 from the free throw line. The Heat also got 27 points from guard Goran Dragic and 12 points, 17 rebounds and six assists from center Bam Adebayo. Butler was the first Heat player to score at least 40 points since LeBron James in 2014.
"For me, I do what my coaches need me to do and what my teammates need me to do," Butler said. "... I really like to get my teammates involved. I think we all did a great job of that."
The Heat held Bucks high-scoring forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league's reigning most valuable player, to 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton led the team with 28 points and center Brook Lopez added 24.
The Bucks, who are the No. 1 seed in the East, have now lost three of their four meetings with the Heat this season. The only victory came earlier this month in the regular season during the NBA restart in Orlando.
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