Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) celebrates after scoring during the second half of Game 4 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday, April 24, 2023, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bucks 119-114. Jimmy Buttler scored 56 points. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

“Playoff Jimmy” Butler’s 56 Gives Miami 3-1 Series Lead

The NBA has branded itself as the league “Where Amazing Happens.” Monday night,  Jimmy Butler personified that motto to a tee.

Butler strung together a generational performance to lead the Miami Heat past the Milwaukee Bucks in a 119-114 game-four victory. He finished with 56 points on the night, tying him for the fourth-most points ever scored in a playoff game. The No. 8-seeded Heat now hold a 3-1 series lead over the No. 1-seeded Bucks.

Brook Lopez led the way for Milwaukee with 36 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Giannis Antetokounmpo also had a strong return in his first appearance since game one.

He tallied up his third career postseason triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. The Bucks ended up relying on their starting five throughout most of the night, with 98 of their 114 points coming from their first unit. Their lack of bench scoring eventually came back to haunt them at the end.

For the Heat, Bam Adebayo chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds. Caleb Martin provided the team with a strong spark off the bench, with Miami outscoring Milwaukee by 16 points while he was on the court. He ended up with 12 points and nine rebounds on the night.

Other than Adebayo and Martin, though, the rest of the Heat did not provide Butler with much help to take down the Bucks. Fortunately for them, he did not need it.

Butler went 19-for-28 from the field and 15-for-18 from the free throw line en route to his monstrous 56.

Hot Starts

The Bucks entered game four looking to make a statement.

With Antetokounmpo finally returning to the hardwood and the team facing a 2-1 deficit, it was do-or-die time for Milwaukee.

They started out the evening on a 17-5 run, with Lopez and Antetokounmpo finding their rhythm early. Lopez had Miami’s number both in the paint and from the three-point line, while Antetokoumpo drove to the lane and dished out a number of assists.

Jimmy Butler, however, refused to let the Heat fall out of it.

After a three-pointer from Gabe Vincent cut down Milwaukee’s lead to 17-8, Butler scored Miami’s next 20 points to close out the first quarter. He finished the quarter with 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the field. Butler ended up tying the Heat record for most points in a quarter during a playoff game.

Yet, somehow, in spite of Butler’s offensive explosion, Miami still trailed 33-28 after the first.

Butler quieted down in the second quarter, only recording two points in the period.

Duncan Robinson stepped up to provide Miami with some offense, leading all Heat scorers with nine points in the quarter.

However, Milwaukee kept their foot on the gas. Lopez and Antetokounmpo combined for 17 second quarter points, as the Bucks ended the first half with a 57-50 lead.

In the third, Butler came back out swinging with 11 more points.

Bam Adebayo chipped in with nine points of his own, albeit on 4-for-11 shooting. No other Heat player scored more than two points in the period. As Miami struggled offensively, Milwaukee remained in the driver’s seat.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with nine points in the quarter, while Lopez continued to dominate the paint both on offense and defense. By the end of the third quarter, Miami trailed 89-78.

“Playoff Jimmy” Butler, Greatness Personified

Entering the final quarter down double digits, the Heat needed a miracle if they wanted to pull out a victory. Thankfully for them, Jimmy Butler has proven himself a miracle-worker.

Both teams went back-and-forth early on in the fourth. The Bucks eventually took a 101-89 lead with 6:09 remaining. From there, Butler swiftly got to work.

After a pullup jumper from Adebayo, Butler knocked down a mid-range shot and converted an and-one layup to cut down Milwaukee’s lead to five points. Martin then hit a pair of free throws and a 21-foot jumper to make it a one-point game. Eventually, Butler threw down a fast-break dunk to give Miami their first lead of the game.

Milwaukee snatched the lead right back on an and-one from Antetokounmpo. Martin and Jrue Holiday then traded three-pointers to exchange the lead back-and-forth once again.

Butler proceeded to knock in two free throws to tie the game back up.

Lopez once again put the Bucks in front with a dunk on the other end.

The lead had managed to change hands four times in less than two minutes. However, Jimmy Butler proved ready to take the lead for good.

With less than 90 seconds remaining, he pulled up from 27 feet out and knocked down a three to take a 110-109 lead.

After a miss from Antetokounmpo, Butler knocked down a step-back jumper.

On Milwaukee’s next possession, Kyle Lowry snagged a steal from Jrue Holiday and advanced the ball to Butler on the fast break. Middleton ended up fouling Butler on the play, leading to two more free throws for Miami.

The Heat now held a two-possession lead.

The Heat Is On

After Miami forced another Antetokounmpo miss on defense, Butler snagged the rebound and swiftly passed it over to Adebayo. The Bucks ended up fouling him, and he knocked down both free throws for a seven-point lead. Milwaukee responded with two free throws of their own, courtesy of a loose ball foul on Gabe Vincent. However, two more free throws from Butler on the subsequent possession essentially sealed the deal for Miami.

With Miami now one win away from the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the series will shift back to Milwaukee.

The Heat and Bucks will return to Fiserv Forum on April 26 at 9:30 p.m. for game five.

Miami will look to become the first eighth seed to win a playoff series since the 2011-12 Philadelphia 76ers.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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