The Miami Heat are just one game away from upsetting the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Jimmy Butler posted a historic scoring performance to lift his team to a 3-1 lead.
The Bucks seemed primed to tie things up at two games each on Monday (April 24) with the return of their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed Games 2 and 3 with a lower back contusion. However, “Playoff Jimmy” would not be denied. He scored 56 points on the day, 21 of which came in the fourth quarter and helped the Heat roar back from a 14-point deficit.
Giannis was no slouch in his return game, recording a triple-double with 26 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds. Brook Lopez led the Bucks with 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday both added 14 points a piece. Still, this was not enough to stop Butler’s offensive onslaught, as he scored 22 of the Heat’s 28 first-quarter points alone to get them off to a great start. Impressively, he scored 20 points in a row in the back half of the first period.
Jimmy Butler’s exceptional scoring now puts him fourth all-time in most points scored in a single playoff game. The six-time All-Star now stands alongside Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Charles Barkley who all scored 56. The only players who stand ahead of them are Jordan, who scored 63 points in 1986 followed by Elgin Baylor’s 61-point performance in 1962, and Donovan Mitchell’s 57-point performance in 2020.
This is a familiar position for the Miami Heat, who eliminated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games during the second round of the 2020 playoffs en route to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2014. Coincidentally, they lost in six games against the Los Angeles Lakers led by LeBron James, who was their anchor during that 2014 NBA Finals run.
The Bucks got their revenge on the Heat in 2021 with a four-game sweep, en route to their own NBA Finals victory. The teams did not get to meet in 2022, as the Bucks were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. The Miami Heat suffered a similar fate in the Eastern Conference Finals rematch against the Celtics, whom they beat in six games in 2020; this time around, they lost in seven.
This playoff victory may be the sweetest for the Miami Heat, given the fact they had to maneuver through the play-in tournament to even earn the chance to be the eighth seed and face the NBA Finals favorites. Now, with Jimmy Butler leading the charge, they are just one game away from ending the Milwaukee Bucks season early for the second time in four years.