LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Jimmy Butler returned from a foot injury and scored 19 points, Derrick Jones scored 18 from the Miami bench and the Heat kept TJ Warren largely in control on their way to a 114-92 victory over the Pacers on Monday night.
Miami moved one game ahead of Indiana in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat (44-27) and Pacers (43-28) both have two games left, and sixth-place Philadelphia (42-28) ends its regular season with three games in four days starting Tuesday.
Tyler Herro scored 17 while Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder each added 14 for Miami, who snapped a double. The Heat took control for good in the third quarter and blew open what was a draw with a 35-1
Goran Dragic scored 11 and Bam Adebayo added 10 for Miami.
Warren scored 12 for Indiana at 5 for 14 shots in 29 minutes. He came in on Monday on average in a bubble-leading 34.8 points per game on 61% shooting from the field, 56% from the 3-point range, but never got to roll against Butler and the Heat.
Victor Oladipo got 14 and Malcolm Brogdon added 12 for Indiana.
The Heat own tiebreakers over both Indiana and Philadelphia, so another Miami win would unlock a No. 4 spot against the No. 5 series starting early next week.
The teams play again on Friday in the seed final for both teams and could meet in the opening round of the playoffs that begin next week – raising the possibility that Miami and Indiana can face as many as nine times in a ten-player period.
It was the first meeting between the clubs since January 8, a game in Indiana where Butler and Warren individual matchup stole the show.
What happened that night, in seven seconds of court time, has been talked about for seven months ago. Warren grabbed Butler’s arm on a run in the middle of the third quarter, and the reaction from each player resulted in double techniques. Butler associated Warren on the next possession, Warren hoisted him with a little pat after the call and got a draft.
Butler blew kisses, Warren offered an obscene gesture in response and both players were fined.
“It’s not about Jimmy and TJ,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s about Miami and Indiana.”
Butler may have taken it personally anyway. He guarded Warren on 25 property days on Monday; Warren scored just two points on 1 for 3 shots during those trips.