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Heat’s Jimmy Butler scores 56 points as Miami leads 3-1 over Bucks

Heat’s Jimmy Butler scores 56 points as Miami leads 3-1 over Bucks

Jimmy Butler and the eighth-seeded Miami Heat have the first-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in deep trouble.

Butler delivered another masterclass in playoff basketball with a career-high 56 points in Miami’s 119-114 win over the Bucks in Game 4 on Monday. Butler’s 56 points tie for fourth most in a playoff game, according to the NBA, behind only Michael Jordan (63), Elgin Baylor (61) and Donovan Mitchell (57).

The Heat took a 3-1 lead and can wrap up the series Wednesday in Milwaukee (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

“It’s tremendous for my team to get this dub in this way, in this atmosphere, for this city,” said Butler.

The Bucks, who won the championship in 2021 and had the NBA’s best record this season, 58-24, now have three straight games to win, and only 13 teams in league history have gone from a 3-1 deficit to come back by one win series. Denver made it twice in the 2020 bubble and Cleveland won the title against Golden State in 2016 after falling 3-1 behind.

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A No. 8 has defeated a No. 1 just five teams, the last time being in 2012 when Philadelphia beat Chicago.

Milwaukee gambled away a 101-89 lead in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, and Butler led Miami’s comeback.

Butler, known for his playoff performances and desire to win, scored 21 points in the fourth quarter with 6-for-8 shots from the field and 8-for-9 from the foul line. During a stretch late in the game, Butler scored nine straight Miami points for a 114-109 lead.

In the first quarter, he scored 22 of Miami’s 28 points in 9-for-10 shooting. Overall, Butler was 19-to-28 from the field and also had nine rebounds.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee scored a triple-double (26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds) in his first game back after missing the last two games with an injured back, and Brook Lopez had 36 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome another brilliant performance from Butler, who has scored 35, 30 and 56 points in Miami’s three wins against the Bucks. Butler’s exploits have been largely paused with Tyler Herro, one of three Heat players to average over 20 points per game this season; Herro broke his right hand in Game 1 against the Bucks.

Butler has a knack for those playoff performances. That’s why he’s called Jimmy Buckets. Or Playoff Jimmy.

Last season he had 47 and 41 points in wins over Boston in the Conference Finals, and in the 2020 Orlando bubble he had 40 and 35 point games against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

Miami didn’t have the season it hoped for, particularly offensively. But in four games, the Heat have found a combination of offense and defense similar to last season’s team that earned the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.

“We knew what we were capable of, even though nobody outside of this building, outside of this roster, outside of this organization believed in us,” Butler said. “That’s fine. We just want to keep doing what we know is possible.”

Contribution: Associated Press

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