JIMMY Butler hit three consecutive hoops down the stretch to cap a postseason career-high, 40-point performance Monday night as the fifth-seeded Miami Heat stunned the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in the NBA bubble near Orlando.
Goran Dragic chipped in with 27 points and Bam Adebayo accumulated a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds as the Heat, who won the season series 2-1 from the Bucks, got the jump in the best-of-seven.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to 18 points in the loss, which was Milwaukee’s second straight in an opening game. The Bucks dropped Game 1 to Orlando in the first round before rebounding with four consecutive decisive wins.
Milwaukee came out on fire against Miami, pouring in 40 first-quarter points en route to an 11-point advantage. Antetokounmpo had half of his 18 points in that run.
But the Heat clawed back, getting within 63-60 by halftime before taking an 82-80 lead late in the third quarter on a pair of Tyler Herro free throws.
Milwaukee regained a 96-95 advantage on an Antetokounmpo layup with 6:04 to play, before Butler gave Miami the lead for good at 97-96 on a floater with 5:50 left.
It was still a one-point game before Butler’s decisive late flurry that included two short jumpers sandwiching a 3-pointer, single-handedly pushing the Heat advantage to 106-98 with just 2:19 to play.
Milwaukee got no closer than five after that.
Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 28 points and Brook Lopez added 24 points. Kyle Korver finished with 11 points for the Bucks, who outshot the Heat 49.3 percent to 46.4.