The Miami Heat became the first eighth seed in nearly a quarter century to reach the conference finals on Friday, downing the New York Knicks 96-92 in Game 6 of their series to advance.
Six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler put up 24 points with eight rebounds and four assists to steer the Heat past a Knicks team that was desperate to stay alive in front of a raucous Miami crowd.
They will next meet either the Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics, who eliminated them in the conference finals a year ago. The Sixers head up to Boston for Game 7 on Sunday.
“We’ve been in games like this all year long, we’re prepared for it,” Butler said in a televised interview. “We’ve got some really good players on this team.”
It was a bitter disappointment for the Knicks, who rolled over Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round – their first NBA playoff series win in a decade – and nearly closed the gap with seconds left on the clock.
The Heat, who dominated first-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in their opening round, are only the second eighth seed to reach the conference finals after the Knicks, who did it in 1999.
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