Jimmy Butler asserts himself with 45 points in Heat’s Game 2 win over Hawks

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Even when the Hawks fouled him as he shot inside, Jimmy Butler made half his “shots.”

Though Atlanta looked more comfortable than Game 1 amid physicality, that’s the Heat’s preferred style. Especially Butler’s.

Butler scored 45 points to lead Miami to a 115-105 win over the Hawks in Game 2 of their first-round series Tuesday.

Up 2-0, the Heat have gained a strong upper hand entering Game 3 Friday in Atlanta. Teams that won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home have won the series 94% of the time.

Butler takes pride in his ability to contribute to winning without scoring, but he was so aggressive as a scorer tonight. He repeatedly raced ahead in transition, got defenders off balance while driving in the halfcourt and even hoisted 3-pointers (4-for-7 from beyond the arc). This was another massive playoff game from someone who’s had multiple in the NBA Finals. Whatever happens during the long regular season, Butler brings his best in the postseason.

Bogdan Bogdanovic (29 points on 12-of-18 shooting) got hot and helped the Hawks trim a 16-point deficit to just three in the fourth quarter. Atlanta did most of its damage while Butler sat. Miami outscored the Hawks by 19 in Butler’s 39 minutes… and got outscored by nine in the other nine minutes.

But Atlanta wasn’t sharp enough to complete the comeback. Trae Young had a double-double (25 points and 10 turnovers) in a better, though not nearly good-enough, performance after shooting just 1-for-12 in Game 1.

Maybe returning home will get the Hawks on track.

So far, the Heat have nearly completely controlled the series.