Butler starts for 47 points to beat Celtics, Heat forces Game 7 in Eastern Conference Finals

BOSTON — The Celtics are going to have to win Game 7 in Miami if they want to go to the NBA Finals. Boston didn’t start until late in Game 6 and lost to the Heat, 111-103, at TD Garden on Friday night.

Everything that plagued the Celtics in Games 1 and 3 — turnovers and offensive rebounds — returned Friday night. Boston turned the ball over 18 times, leading Miami to 22 points, and gave up 11 offensive rebounds.

Jayson Tatum (30 points) and Jaylen Brown (20 points) both came to play for the Celtics, and Derrick White added 22 points off the bench. But that wasn’t enough for Boston, as the team’s star duo managed just seven shots in the second half.

“We’ve been resilient all year and it’s a different test,” Brown said of the upcoming Game 7. “Obviously that game hurt to lose at home. But we have to have short memories. This team there is hungry and experienced, so we have to come out ready to go, come out with a good mentality.”

The Celtics had no response for Jimmy Butler, who returned to his usual form on Friday night. Butler was in full “Jimmy Buckets” mode, exploding for a playoff career-high 47 points with nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals to lead the Heat to a streak-extending victory.

Butler was 16 for 29 from the floor and hit four of his eight threes. He also made all 11 of his free throws.

“He put it on his shoulders and we didn’t match it,” said Ime Udoka after the loss.

Butler made the difference on Friday night. He got hot early and never calmed down, scoring 14 points to go with five rebounds and four assists in the first quarter. Miami led 29-22 after 12 minutes of action.

Tatum scored nine straight for Boston in 1:42 early in the second quarter and cut Miami’s lead to 32-31 with a nice jumper. It was part of an 11-3 run for Tatum since the end of the first quarter.

Brown went on his own run later in the second, scoring 11 straight points for the Celtics. He gave Boston its first lead with 3:05 into the quarter on a pair of free throws, and put Boston ahead 46-42 minutes later when he was fouled on a good lay- driving up.

Tatum and Brown scored 36 of Boston’s 46 points in the first half. The rest of the team was just 3 for 18 for 10 points.

After Brown’s run, Miami turned two straight Boston turnovers into runs — a Bam Adebayo block on a Smart turnover and a pair of Butler free throws on a Tatum turnover — and closed the half on a run of 6-0 to take a 48- 46 lead at the break. Miami turned 10 Boston turnovers into 18 first-half points.

A Tatum three early in the third quarter gave the Celtics a 51-49 lead, but it didn’t last long. Miami pulled out a 13-2 run, capped off by a Max Strus three to go ahead 70-58.

Rob Williams scored 10 points for Boston in the third, including a nice jam on a Tatum feed after blocking Gabe Vincent at the other end. But Strus drained three more with just over a minute left in the quarter, and Miami led 82-75 going into the fourth quarter.

After Miami went up nine on a Butler turnover, Derrick White pitched it. He hit a three and then a nice floater to cut the Heat’s lead to 89-85 with 9:36 left. White scored eight runs in less than three minutes early in the fourth.

Butler stayed hot though. He hit a corner three despite strong defense from Marcus Smart to put the Heat back up by five, then cashed in a driving layup after a pair of free throws from Tatum to give Miami a 94-91 lead with 6:23 to play.

Horford didn’t make his first shot until 5:31 from the end of the game, but it was a big shot. He hit a three after a Miami shot clock violation to tie things up at 94-94, and White gave Boston a 97-94 lead with a corner three with 4:43 left after a missed Butler three .

Kyle Lowry answered with a three of his own, then put Miami back in the lead with a pair of free throws after being fouled by Brown on a drive to the hoop. It was the eighth lead change of the match, after there had been only eight lead changes in the first five games.

There could have been another lead change with just over two minutes to go. Brown went to the line for Boston with the game tied 99-99, but missed both giveaways. After PJ Tucker nabbed the rebound, Butler was fouled while on a driving layup and hit his free throw to give Miami a 102-99 advantage with 2:06 remaining. .

Butler drained a deep two as the shot clock rang with 43.9 left to put the Heat up 107-101 and essentially seal the win for Miami.

Tatum fired just one shot and scored just four points in the fourth quarter. Brown also fired just one shot and scored two runs in the fourth for Boston.

Now the series will come down to a deciding Game 7 in Miami on Sunday night. The Celtics must put a disappointing Game 6 loss behind them and prepare to win another Game 7 — this time on the road — to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

“We know we can go out there and win,” Udoka said of Boston’s two wins at Miami during the series. “We had to make it harder than it is, not taking advantage of what’s in front of us. Sloppy basketball on both sides and we can’t have that on the road. We have to match their physique.”

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