Jimmy Butler Outduels T.J. Warren as Heat Beat Pacers 113-101 in Game 1August 18, 2020
Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat kicked off their postseason run with a 113-101 Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Butler scored 28 and filled up the stat sheet, adding a pair of key three-pointers late to seal the win:
It was enough to carry the No. 5 seed to a 1-0 lead in the first-round playoff matchup, equaling the franchise's playoff wins from the past three years combined.
The No. 4-seeded Pacers were already short-handed without Domantas Sabonis, but things got even worse Tuesday with Victor Oladipo suffering an eye injury and missing most of the game. It left the team with few offensive options outside of T.J. Warren, which was too much for the underdog to overcome.
Indiana was one of the hottest teams during the NBA restart in Orlando, but the team will have to regroup to get back in this series.
Jimmy Butler, SF, MIA: 28 points, 4 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks
Bam Adebayo, C, MIA: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks
Goran Dragic, PG, MIA: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
T.J. Warren, SF: IND: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals
Malcolm Brogdon, PG, IND: 22 points, 10 assists
Myles Turner, C, IND: 9 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks
Butler-Warren Rivalry Headlines Start of Series
Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren have battled in the past, with the two exchanging words both on and off the court and Butler calling his rival "trash."
Though many anticipated a repeat during this seven-game series, Butler told reporters Monday the rivalry between the two is "dead."
"Everybody wants to make a story out of it," he said. "My job isn't against T.J. Warren. It's against the Indiana Pacers."
Whether he wants to make it a rivalry or not, the one-on-one battle is the most important thing to watch in this series.
Butler made big plays on both ends of the court Tuesday to give his team plenty of momentum:
However, Warren seemed to match him every step of the way:
The forward finished 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Butler then stepped up with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, hitting a pair of clutch three-pointers after struggling from deep all season.
He hadn't made a single three since March 2 but made two in the fourth quarter.
It helped the Heat win the first game, but this could be a big-time battle that might last all seven games.
Pacers Depth Tested With Key Injuries
Indiana already knew Sabonis would be unavailable because of plantar fasciitis, taking away the team's only All-Star this season. The only other All-Star on the roster—Oladipo—started against the Heat but lasted just nine minutes before being poked in the eye and coming out of the game.
For much of this game, it looked like the Pacers would be left with Warren, Malcolm Brogdon and little else.
After trailing by double digits, the bench finally stepped up with JaKarr Sampson especially playing well:
These players were able to keep up with the Heat despite big games from Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro.
Miami still had more production from its best players, with Bam Adebayo turning heads with his agility:
It shows the Pacers could have an uphill battle in this series, especially if Oladipo is forced to miss more time.
The two teams will have one day off before returning for Game 2 on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.