The Heat broke through the absence of Butler, Lowry and the Hawks 97-94 to win the series 4-1

Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are missing. But the Miami Heat’s defenses were still in place, as were the numbers.

After all, it was all it took on Tuesday night at the FTX Arena to shut out Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.

Turning up the heat with the absence of two leading players, Eric Spoelstra’s team swept the Hawks 97–94 to win the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series in the first round 4–1, enduring a bumpy finish.

“It was a really inspiring team win,” Spoelstra said. “Everyone who played had fingerprints on it. We obviously had some difficulties in this game, there was no Kyle and Jimmy, and our group did not even blink.

Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers series winner Toronto Raptors, which sees the 66ers lead 3-2 ahead of Game 6 on Thursday night in Toronto.

An added bonus is extra rest for Butler, who missed the game with knee inflammation, and Lowry, who missed his second game in a row with a hamstring strain, with the Heat’s next series not opening until Monday at the FTX Arena.

“The next couple of days we will just watch what happens,” said Spoelstra.

Tickets for this series go on sale to the general public on Wednesday at 4:00 pm.

In the other Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Boston Celtics will host the Milwaukee Bucks series winner, the Chicago Bulls, in which the Bucks are leading 3-1.

Lacking Butler and Lowry, the Heat came on the defensive while receiving an ensemble contribution.

There were 20 points and 11 rebounds for Bam Adebayo, as well as 23 points for Victor Oladipo, who started instead of Butler, 16 for Tyler Herro and 15 for Max Strus.

“This,” Strus said, “is nothing new for us. When one guy falls, the next one gets up.”

At the Hawks, De’Andre Hunter scored 35 points and Young closed with 11 points on 2 of 12 shots.

On Tuesday, the Heat held the Hawks down to .419 shots and forced 19 passes.

“On defense,” Spoelstra said, “there were some incredibly inspiring games.”

Five degrees heat from Tuesday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Hawks led 22–21 late in the first quarter before the Heat went 54–42 at halftime, ending the second quarter 20–4.

Atlanta responded by starting the third quarter 8–0 and moving within 54–50, leading to a Heat timeout at 2:24 in the second half. The Heat responded by taking a 15-point lead before gaining a 75–64 lead in the fourth round.

The Heat then moved up 13 early in the fourth before Atlanta closed out 79–76 with 8:14 to play.

The Heat took the lead back to 10 midway through the period, but the Hawks continued to close, and a pair of Hunter baskets brought the Hawks back 95–93 with 1:14 left.

Adebayo dunked back with 59.2 seconds left to extend the heat lead to four.

The Hawks ultimately ended up in possession with 5.2 seconds left, after the Heat unsuccessfully challenged an off-field challenge and then Atlanta called their final time-out.

This was followed by the transmission of the “Hawks”, which put an end to this.

“I also thought it was appropriate that we needed to stop at the end to win,” Spoelstra said.

2. Strus freaked out: The Heat switched to full-court pressing after Atlanta’s timeout with 2:36 left in the second period, and as a result, Strus scored 10 consecutive points in 67 seconds to extend the Heat’s lead to 49–40.

“I didn’t even know I did it,” Strus later said. “But it was fun.

Firstly, with 2:29 left in the first half, Strus scored a goal with a backwards throw.

Then, with 2:25 left in the second quarter, after the Hawks moved to receive, Strus hit a 3-pointer.

With 1:47 left in the half, Strus made another three-pointer.

And 1:22 before the end of the second quarter, Strus converted a transitional downtime.

“He was uncorked,” Spoelstra said of Strus, “and it was a great game.”

A flagrant foul on Hawks center Clint Capele followed, putting Adebayo on the line for a pair of free throws, extending the Heat’s lead to 51–40.

A 3-point game by Gabe Vincent, who started in place of Lowry, ended the Heat’s surge 17-0.

“Hair on fire,” is how Spoelstra described the surge.

3. Explosive start: If there were questions about Oladipo’s surgical knee and his remaining explosive power, they were answered in advance.

Oladipo opened the scoring 4 of 4 from the field, making a simple move, a simple roll, a pull-up jumper from the foul line and a finishing transition with a spin at the ring.

He already had one basket more than his 11:04 p.m. in Game 4, his only previous appearance this postseason.

By intermission, he scored 13 points.

“Vic was really good again,” Spoelstra said.

He hit 8 of 16 field goals and 3 of 6 3s.

“We just love him,” Spoelstra said. “Vic came out like gangsters.”

4. Trae torment: Even without Butler and Lowry’s defense, the Heat continued to give Trae Young trouble, this time with the Hawks defending 1-of-7 in the first half for five points.

The Heat needed that defense after hitting 3 of 14 3-pointers in the first half.

Young’s frustration eventually led to a technical foul with 5:11 left in the game.

“We had a great game plan,” Strus said. “Spo made a great game plan and the guys executed it.”

Young closed the streak with .319 field goals and .184 on threes while averaging 15.4 points.

“It’s fully backed by a lot of respect,” Spoelstra said of his team’s drive to stop Young. “Our guys have been really committed to this side of the floor during those five games.”

5. Strange Moment: Markieff Morris of the Heat received an unsportsmanlike technical foul with 7:06 left in the third quarter.

Even though it wasn’t in the game.

Although he did not play in the series.

After reaching out during a lost ball scrum in front of the Heat bench, Morris contacted Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter and officials requested a video review.

This led to Young’s successful free throw, followed by Young’s pass to complete possession.

Morris remained on the bench after the incident.

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