Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, Goran Dragic had 24 and the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 113-101 on Tuesday in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The Heat pulled away in the closing minutes, long after the Pacers had lost star guard Victor Oladipo to an eye injury. Butler sank two late threes to seal the win.
Bam Adebayo had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who were just a little bit better in a mostly even matchup between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, who were separated by a game in the standings in this pandemic-shortened season.
Indiana went 6-2 in the seeding games and Miami was 3-5, with the teams splitting a pair of meetings. The Pacers’ victory on Friday in the finale allowed them to take the No. 4 seed, which in other years would have been a bigger deal because it meant Indiana would have had home-court advantage.
Butler seemed to treat it like a road game, appearing to jaw at one point toward the virtual Pacers fans filling the sides of the arena in the NBA’s Disney World bubble.
T,J. Warren and Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points apiece for the Pacers, who will try to even the series on Thursday.
Oladipo was limited to 8 minutes before he was scratched in the left eye with 3:26 remaining in the first quarter, appearing to be hit first by Miami’s Jae Crowder.
Miami opened a 72-62 lead midway through the third quarter but the Pacers used a good finish to knock it down to an 81-80 deficit heading to the fourth.
It was a three-point game midway through the final period before Butler hit a couple 3-pointers and Dragic added one in an 11-2 surge that made it 107-95 with just over 2 minutes remaining.