Jimmy Butler scored 30 points before leaving with back pain after a bad fall, and the eighth-seeded Miami Heat beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 121-99 on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in their series. Eastern Conference first round playoffs. .
Duncan Robinson scored 20 points on his 29th birthday with Miami, while Kyle Lowry scored 15 with the Heat.
The Bucks were without Giannis Antetokounmpo for the second straight game due to a lower back bruise. Khris Middleton scored 23 points, Jrue Holiday added 19 and Grayson Allen scored 14 for Milwaukee.
Game 4 is in Miami on Monday night.
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With the win, the Heat are halfway to what would be an upset: a No. 8 seed over a No. 1 seed, something that has happened just five times since the NBA moved to the 16-team playoff format in 1984.
Those who did: Denver beat Seattle 3-2 in 1994, New York beat Miami 3-2 in 1999, Golden State beat Dallas 4-2 in 2007, Memphis beat San Antonio 4-2 in 2011 and Philadelphia beat Chicago 4-2 in 2012.
Butler was hurt midway through the third quarter after taking a shot near the rim and falling on his back. He stayed in the game briefly, departed for a brief locker room stint, and returned with a large bandage on his back, with the Heat saying he would be back.
He didn’t, because he didn’t have to. The game was set, and Miami eventually led by as many as 29.
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Still, it was a grim end for Miami, first with Butler banged up and then with Victor Oladipo, who has spent years dealing with injury problems, leaving late in the fourth quarter after apparently hurting his left knee. Oladipo was expected to play a bigger role for Miami in the postseason after Tyler Herro’s injury.
The first half couldn’t have gone better for Miami. Butler scored 17 points in the first quarter, the Heat went 19-0 at one point, set a franchise record by hitting 12 3-pointers in the half, and still only went 66-53 at halftime.
The reason, again: Milwaukee was making 3-pointers, again. The Bucks made 25 of them in their easy Game 2 win and went 10-for-18 from deep in the first half on Saturday.
But the Bucks cooled off after halftime, shooting just 5-for-21 from 3-point range, and the result was never in doubt.
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Bucks: Holiday’s first 10 points came in the first 4:43. He’s reached 10 faster points in just one other game this season, needing 4:18 to do it against Toronto on Jan. 17… Pat Connaughton scored 11 for Milwaukee.
Heat: Kevin Love returned to Miami’s starting lineup. … Robinson had been a part of only one other Heat game on his birthday: It was last year, when Miami lost Game 3 of a first-round series against Atlanta 111-110. Miami was 6-0 all-time in games played on April 22 before that. … Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel was on the court.