The Miami Heat secured their spot in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals after beating the Atlanta Hawks despite losing key forward Jimmy Butler.
With scoring sensation Butler and point guard Kyle Lowry injured, the Heat held off the visiting Hawks to win 97-94.
He secured a 4–1 victory for the Heat in the best-of-seven play-off first round.
“Clearly we had some adversity in this game not having Kyle or Jimmy, and our group doesn’t even bat an eye,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told ESPN.
“That’s not even something we have to address. We just turn around and lay out the game plan and everybody gears up and wraps their ankles and goes out there and competes.”
“Everyone who played had their fingerprints on this.”
Miami will play the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors, with the Sixers winning 3-2 in their first round series.
The Heat will have at least six days off before the second round begins, Monday at the earliest, and hope Butler and Lowry are fit to return.
Butler, a six-time All-Star, had averaged 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the series, but was ruled out of Game 5 because of inflammation in his right knee.
In his absence, Victor Oladipo scored 23 points after battling injury problems of his own.
Oladipo, 29, said a year ago that he was at “the lowest point” following knee and quad injuries, but he starred in leading the scoring for the Heat in his first playoff start since August 2020.
After the Hawks rallied to 79-76 with 8 minutes, 14 seconds remaining, Oladipo scored seven of Miami’s next 13 points as they trailed 92-82.
Atlanta fought back and had a couple of chances to equalize in the final 30 seconds, but a missed shot came before Bam Adebayo stole the end of the game.
In the Western Conference, the memphis grizzlies took a 3-2 lead over the minnesota timber wolves with a 111-109 win.
Ja Morant, recently crowned the 2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player, scored 18 of his game’s 30 points in the fourth quarter, scoring the Grizzlies’ final 11 points, which included a last-second tiebreaking layup. .
The phoenix suns also advanced 3-2 after five games of their first-round series against new orleans pelicans thanks to a 112-97 home win.
Mikal Bridges had 31 points for the Suns, while Chris Paul added 22 points and 11 assists.