Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are headed to the Eastern Conference finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo could only watch.
The fifth-seeded Heat finished off an upset of the NBA’s best regular-season team Tuesday night, beating the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-94, in Game 5 of their East semifinal series — while Antetokounmpo, the league’s reigning MVP, couldn’t play because of a sprained right ankle.
“We have deep, deep respect for that franchise and it’s unfortunate that Giannis couldn’t play tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Butler and Goran Dragic each scored 17 points for the Heat, who won the series, 4-1, and will face Boston or Toronto when the NBA’s final four gets underway next week. It’s Miami’s first time in the East finals since 2014, and the first time Butler has gotten this deep in the playoffs.
“It means a lot,” Butler said. “But that’s not my goal. That’s not my guys' goal. That’s not the organization’s goal. We want to win ‘it.’ We want a championship and I think that’s what we’re focused on. These next eight are going to be much harder than the previous eight. We know that. But we’re ready for them.”
Jae Crowder scored 16 points, Tyler Herro 14, Bam Adebayo 13, and Kelly Olynyk 12 for the Heat.
Khris Middleton had 23 points for Milwaukee, which got 15 points and 14 rebounds from Brook Lopez. Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points, Wesley Matthews and Marvin Williams each had 11, and Eric Bledsoe had nine assists for the Bucks.
The decision to not let Antetokounmpo play came down about 45 minutes before game time.
“I wanted to play,” Antetokounmpo said. "You know I wanted to play. I know I wanted to play. My coach knows I wanted to play, but at the end of the day, the organization put my health over Game 5. That’s big.''
Lakers move ahead
LeBron James scored 36 points, Rajon Rondo sparked a fourth-quarter rally, and the Lakers beat the Rockets, 112-102, to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference playoff series.
James earned his NBA-record 162nd playoff victory, surpassing former Lakers guard Derek Fisher’s 161.
Rondo had 21 points and nine assists as the Lakers broke open a close game in the final period. He scored 8 straight points during a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter that put the Lakers ahead for good. Rondo assisted on the other basket during that stretch.
Anthony Davis had 26 points and Kyle Kuzma added 14. James Harden scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook had 30 for the Rockets.
Rondo assisted on a layup by James that put the Lakers ahead with about 10 minutes remaining. Rondo then hit a 3-pointer to give the Lakers an 89-85 advantage, their largest lead to that point.
After a Houston timeout, Westbrook missed a shot and Rondo sank another three. Rondo then stole the ball from Harden and made a layup to cap the 10-0 run.
LA controlled the final period for the second straight game. The Lakers blew a 21-point lead in Game 2 but outscored Houston by 10 in the fourth quarter to win, 117-109.
Donovan won’t return
Billy Donovan won’t return as coach of the Thunder after five seasons, the team announced.
Donovan, who was at the end of his contract, took the Thunder to the playoffs every year and was a finalist for Coach of the Year this season after his squad outperformed expectations and pushed the Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
Donovan went 243-157 with Oklahoma City. Before that, he led the University of Florida to two national championships and four Final Four appearances in 19 seasons.
The team and Donovan described his departure as a mutual decision. General manager Sam Presti said he couldn’t give Donovan the assurances he wanted about the future.
“It became apparent that we couldn’t provide him the information on the future direction of the team over the next several seasons to give him the level of clarity that he understandably desires at this stage of his career,” Presti said.
Honor for Smart
Antetokounmpo was the Defensive Player of the Year, so it should be no surprise that he was also the leading vote-getter for the league’s All-Defensive team.
The Bucks forward — and favorite to win his second consecutive MVP award — appeared on 97 of the first-team ballots out of 100 cast by a global panel of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league.
Antetokounmpo was one of three Bucks on the 10-person squad, announced by the league Tuesday.
Also on the first team: Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Lakers forward Anthony Davis, 76ers guard Ben Simmons, and Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
The second-team selections were Clippers teammates Kawhi Leonard at forward and Patrick Beverley at guard, Bucks teammates Brook Lopez at center and Eric Bledsoe at guard, and Heat forward Bam Adebayo.
NBA coaches or other team staffers could have guests in the bubble later this month, with the league sharing final plans for such additions with teams on Tuesday.
Team staffs would be limited to a total of 10 guests, all of whom would have to begin a self-quarantining period at home immediately, then travel to Central Florida next week to begin another week of even stricter lockdown. Those guests could then enter the so-called bubble at Walt Disney World on Sept. 21, about a week before the scheduled start of the NBA Finals.
Coaches have been clamoring for this for some time. Some players were able to bring family into the bubble — following quarantines and other health certifications — starting on Aug. 31. NBA referees also had the option of bringing a guest into the bubble, though none did so.
“I’ve been involved in those conversations since May,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We just found out this morning that we have 10 spots. I’ll share my own thoughts privately with the NBA and that’s all I’ll have to say about it.”