Berliner Tageblatt - No Butler, no problem as Heat crush Bulls to set up Celtics clash

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No Butler, no problem as Heat crush Bulls to set up Celtics clash
No Butler, no problem as Heat crush Bulls to set up Celtics clash / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

No Butler, no problem as Heat crush Bulls to set up Celtics clash

The Miami Heat shrugged off the absence of star forward Jimmy Butler to crush the Chicago Bulls 112-91 in their play-in eliminator on Friday and earn a clash with the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

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It is the second straight season that Miami have earned the eighth-seed spot via the play-in tournament and they will play the Celtics for the fourth time in the last five post-seasons.

Butler suffered a sprained MCL knee ligament injury in Wednesday's defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers and faces several weeks out.

The 34-year-old has led the Heat to two NBA Finals including last year's run which included an Eastern Conference Finals win over the Celtics.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had insisted that his team had the personnel to cope with the loss of their talisman and they illustrated that in a convincing home win.

Point guard Tyler Herro was the main man with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists but he was well supported by rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr and veteran Kevin Love.

Jaquez put up 21 points with six rebounds and six assists while Love coming off the bench, made 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

The Heat were also without point guard Terry Rozier, who remains out with a neck injury, but they stormed out in the first quarter putting up a 19-0 run ending the opening period 34-17 up.

It was a lead they never relinquished with a 14-0 run in the second helping them reach a half-time lead of 47-37.

Demar DeRozan top scored for the Bulls with 22 points but Chicago never truly threatened to turn the game around in the second half.

Herro said he had set to emulate Butler's all-round contribution for Miami.

"There are a lot of people who try to determine the outcome of a game by how many points someone scores and I think Jimmy Butler does the opposite of that," he said.

"He impacts the game in so many different ways, sharing the ball, making the right plays for his team-mates and I tried to be as much as I could of Jimmy tonight, just trying to make the right play, give my guys shots and not force anything," he said.

"Obviously it was a great team win for us overall, I'm just excited to be back in the playoffs, healthy and ready to roll," he said.

The Celtics will start as strong favorites however against Miami with Boston having won a league-high 64 wins this season.

Later on Friday, the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs is decided when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Sacramento Kings.

R.Adler--BTB