Jimmy Butler got help — a lot of it — as the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
And when they meet in Game 2 on Thursday afternoon, Pacers star T.J. Warren can only hope he gets some support, too.
Butler scored 28 points and came up big down the stretch, and he led a tag-team defensive effort that slowed down Warren in the opener of the best-of-seven series, which Miami took 113-101 on Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
Goran Dragic complemented Butler with 24 points and rookie Tyler Herro chipped in 15 in his NBA postseason debut, but it was the play of veteran Andre Iguodala off the bench that was as crucial as any in the Miami star’s supporting cast.
Iguodala had just four points and one rebound in 25 minutes, but his defense on Warren helped set a tone for a Heat game plan that limited the All-Bubble first-team performer to 22 points on just 18 field-goal attempts in 38 minutes.
Iguodala’s positive influence — he had a plus-3 plus/minus in the game — came as no surprise to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who had expected as much when the team acquired the 36-year-old during the season. Iguodala was a key contributor in three NBA championship runs for the Golden State Warriors.
“I love being around him,” Spoelstra gushed earlier in the season. “I love having him in our gym, in our team room, in our locker room. He’s a fun guy to be around, and he’s an interesting guy. I love that our young players see an example of what a winner looks like — the ultimate winner in this league. A professional, somebody who’s curious, somebody who’s continuing to grow even with the amount of years he’s had in this league.”
Bam Adebayo was another key member of Butler’s supporting cast in Game 1, going for a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Pacers, meanwhile, got 22 points from Malcolm Brogdon, but little else in the form of help for Warren, especially after Victor Oladipo left the game after getting poked in the left eye.
Indiana released a statement Wednesday announcing that Oladipo had escaped serious damage, but coach Nate McMillan surely was not encouraged about the two-time All-Star’s availability for Game 2 after seeing him headed for the hospital on Tuesday.
“His vision was really blurry,” McMillan told reporters after the game. “Really couldn’t see out of his eye when we spoke to him at halftime.”
Also missing injured Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers pressed five reserves into 13 or more minutes of action in Game 1. They combined for a minus-20 plus/minus.
Warren overcame the harassing Heat defense to hit half his 18 shots and bury four of his five 3-pointers.
But 18 attempts were far fewer than the 29 he used to pour in 53 points against Philadelphia earlier in the bubble, the 26 he needed to put up 34 in the next game against Washington or even the 22 he got off in a 39-point effort on Aug. 8 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers are unbeaten (4-0) this season when Warren has taken 23 or more shots.
–Field Level Media