Jimmy Butler Erupted For 45 Points To Lead The Heat To A Game 2 Victory Over The Hawks

The Miami Heat held serve in dominant fashion on Sunday afternoon, blasting the Atlanta Hawks to take a 1-0 series in the best-of-seven series. Two days later, the Hawks were much more competitive in the rematch, but Jimmy Butler led another impressive effort for Miami, holding on for a 115-105 victory.

In the opening minutes, there were brief signs of a Miami barrage that could be similar to Game 1. After the Hawks scored first, the Heat scored the next ten points, to take early control.

Atlanta would respond, though, and the Hawks were up for the challenge in a different way than Sunday. The Hawks put together an immediate 12-5 run to tie the game, and they were competitive on both ends of the floor.

Following an individual disaster in Game 1 with his worst offensive numbers of the season, Trae Young found his stride. He scored 10 points in the first quarter and 18 in the first half, getting comfortable against Miami’s switching scheme.

The second quarter was an exercise in back-and-forth basketball, with neither team leading by more than four points. There were some fireworks, though, as De’Andre Hunter and Kyle Lowry earned a double-technical for jawing.

Beyond the peripheral energy, fouls were a big story. 30 fouls were called in the first half, with three regulars (Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic) picking up three for the Hawks and both Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon picking up three for the Heat. That set up alternative lineups on both sides, and Miami took it into the half with a two-point lead.

Early in the third quarter, Jimmy Butler asserted his will. He was the best player on the floor in the first half, scoring 21 points, and Miami’s star forward kept it going with his drive game, pull-up jumper and foul drawing. Butler keyed an 11-0 run by the Heat, with Miami eventually building a double-digit lead for the first time in the game.

The Heat maintained a comfortable edge through the third quarter and into the fourth, with Miami leading 94-78 with less than nine minutes remaining. Atlanta would not roll over, though, as the Hawks put together a 12-0 run to slash the margin. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 10 points in less than three minutes, bringing the visitors within four.

After a timeout and a bit of stabilization, Miami pushed the margin back to nine, riding the veteran duo of Butler and Kyle Lowry.

Behind the continued red-hot shooting of Bogdanovic, the Hawks climbed back within three with less than three minutes remaining. Atlanta had a shot in the air that would’ve tied the game, but it clanged off the rim and, moments later, Butler put the game away by engineering a personal 7-0 run, giving the Heat a 10-point lead that they would never relinquish.

Butler was the story of the evening, finishing with a playoff career-high 45 points on 15-of-25 shooting, 4-of-7 from three-point range, and 11-of-12 at the free throw line. He added five rebounds, five assists and top-shelf defense, and Butler repeatedly made huge plays down the stretch to secure the win.

On the Hawks side, it was a much more competitive effort, keyed by 29 points on 18 shots from Bogdanovic. Young bounced back with 25 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, but he committed 10 turnovers and did not quite reach his usual level of dominance, particularly in the second half where he had just seven points. As a team, Atlanta shot just 12-of-40 from three-point range, and the Hawks committed 19 turnovers that led directly to 21 points for the Heat.

From here, the series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday evening. Given the 0-2 deficit, the Hawks will face a virtual must-win scenario at State Farm Arena, though Atlanta has been dominant at home, winning 20 of the last 23 games.

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