MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 35 points and the Miami Heat capitalized on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s early exit to beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 130-117 on Sunday in an Eastern Conference playoff opener featuring two notable injuries.
The top-seeded Bucks lost Antetokounmpo to a lower back bruise early in the second quarter. Miami’s Tyler Herro broke his right hand later in the period.
No. 8 seed Miami had built a 68-55 halftime advantage before Herro’s departure and stayed ahead by shooting 59.5% (50 of 84) from the floor. The Heat were 15 of 25 and the Bucks 11 of 45 from 3-point range.
Antetokounmpo was driving to the basket with 4:13 left in the first quarter when he got fouled by Kevin Love and landed hard on his backside. The two-time MVP got up slowly, stayed in the game to take his free throws and then headed to the locker room about 2 1/2 minutes later after picking up his second foul.
Although he returned to the game with 9:56 remaining in the second quarter, Antetokounmpo went to the locker room again with 8:33 left in the half and was ruled out for the rest of the game shortly afterward.
Herro appeared to hurt his hand while diving for a loose ball late in the first half. He was in obvious pain while standing in front of Miami bench during the final minute of the second period, and the Heat disclosed the severity of his injury at halftime.
Herro had scored 12 points before his injury. Antetokounmpo ended up with six points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
Bam Adebayo had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Heat. Butler had 11 assists. Love had 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 33 points and nine rebounds. Bobby Portis had 21 points. Jrue Holiday added 16 points and 16 assists, though he shot 6 of 18.
Miami seized control of the game before Antetokounmpo’s injury as the Bucks appeared disjointed after a long layoff. None of the Bucks’ starters had played since at least April 5, when they won at Chicago to clinch the NBA’s best regular-season record and top playoff seed.
The Heat led by as many as 14 in the first half. Antetokounmpo left the game for good during a 9-0 Bucks run that cut Miami’s lead to 43-42, but the Heat answered with a 12-2 spurt and remained in front the rest of the way.
Heat: Ranked just 27th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.344) in the regular season. ... Were 17-24 in away games, including a 9-17 mark against East teams.
Bucks: This is the third time in five seasons the Bucks have been the NBA’s top overall playoff seed. The other two times, they lost to Toronto in the 2019 East finals and fell to Miami in the 2020 East semifinals. ... The Bucks are making their seventh consecutive playoff appearance, the second-longest active streak to Boston’s nine. The franchise record for consecutive postseason berths is 12 from 1980-91.
Game 2 is Wednesday at Milwaukee.