LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP/WISH) — Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, Goran Dragic had 24 and the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 113-101 on Tuesday in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The Heat pulled away in the closing minutes, long after the Pacers had lost star guard Victor Oladipo to an eye injury. Pacers coach Nate McMillan said Oladipo could not see out of his left eye at halftime. The team was awaiting a report from the hospital where their guard was taken.
Bam Adebayo had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who were just a little bit better in a mostly even matchup between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, who were separated by a game in the standings in this pandemic-shortened season.
Indiana went 6-2 in the seeding games and Miami was 3-5, with the teams splitting a pair of meetings. The Pacers’ victory on Friday in the finale allowed them to take the No. 4 seed, which in other years would have been a bigger deal because it meant Indiana would have had home-court advantage.
Butler seemed to treat it like a road game, appearing to jaw at one point toward the virtual Pacers fans filling the sides of the arena in the NBA’s Disney World bubble.
T.J. Warren and Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points apiece for the Pacers, who will try to even the series on Thursday.
Oladipo was limited to 8 minutes before he was scratched in the left eye with 3:26 remaining in the first quarter, appearing to be hit first by Miami’s Jae Crowder.
“His vision was really blurry, really couldn’t see out of his eye when we spoke to him at halftime,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said after the game. “He was going to get that checked out”
Brogdon said after the game, “With or without Vic, we need to adjust and play great basketball.”
Brogdon later added that Oladipo “didn’t say much (after the incident). I just want him to be healthy.”
Miami opened a 72-62 lead midway through the third quarter but the Pacers used a good finish to knock it down to an 81-80 deficit heading to the fourth.
It was a three-point game midway through the final period before Butler hit a couple 3-pointers and Dragic added one in an 11-2 surge that made it 107-95 with just over 2 minutes remaining.
Heat: Derrick Jones Jr. who sustained a neck injury Friday, was cleared to play and had six points in 13 minutes. … Tyler Herro scored 15 points.
Pacers: Oladipo’s loss came after coach Nate McMillan said the guard was no longer playing with a minutes restriction. He said the Pacers had been limiting Oladipo’s minutes in earlier games at Disney as he worked his way back from his right knee injury.