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Jimmy Butler, Heat crush Hawks for 3-1 playoff series lead

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (L) made 12 field goals and 11 free throws for a game-high 36 points in a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Atlanta. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (L) made 12 field goals and 11 free throws for a game-high 36 points in a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Atlanta. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

April 25 (UPI) -- Jimmy Butler erupted for 36 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals to lead the Miami Heat to a dominant 110-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks and a 3-1 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The top-seeded Heat led by as many as 27 points in the victory Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

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"I'm not the only one who is in rhythm," Butler told reporters. "I feel like we are playing great basketball and getting stops whenever our spacing correct. This was a good one, but we have another one to get."

With another win, the Heat can claim the best-of-seven series and advance to a second-round matchup with the No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers or No. 5 Toronto Raptors.

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Sunday's Game 4 featured 10 lead changes and was tied five times. The Heat outscored the No. 8 Hawks 48-26 in the paint and 8-0 off fast breaks. The Hawks made just 40% of their field goal attempts. The Heat totaled just six turnovers, with zero in the first half.

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The also Heat played without veteran guard Kyle Lowry, who is dealing with a hamstring strain.

"We just wanted to be organized," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of playing without Lowry. "We didn't have our quarterback and Jimmy and Bam [Adebayo] allowed us to get settled, particularly in the first half.

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"We had to find a way to win this game. A lot of it was our defense and versatility."

Forward De'Andre Hunter scored 11 points and went 3 for 3 on 3-point attempts to help the Hawks earn a 26-25 lead through the first quarter. The Hawks started the second on a 9-2 run, but the Heat responded with a 15-2 run to take a 44-37 lead 3:58 before halftime.

The Heat also scored 11 unanswered points to end the quarter for a 55-41 advantage at the break. Butler scored 13 points in the second. The Heat outscored the Hawks 25-20 in the third and took an 80-61 edge into the fourth.

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Butler scored a dozen down the stretch as the Heat outscored the Hawks 30-25 over the final 12 minutes.

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Heat forward P.J. Tucker and Adebayo recorded 14 points and eight rebounds apiece in the win. Heat guards Max Strus and Gabe Vincent scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Hunter scored 24 points to pace the Hawks. Hawks forward John Collins totaled 11 points. The Heat held Hawks guard Trae Young to just nine points. Young made 3 of his 11 field goal attempts, was 3 of 10 from 3-point range and totaled five turnovers.

"They had a lot of pressure," Young said. "They brought the pressure. We couldn't match it or make any shots and didn't play well."

Game 5 tips off at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday at FTX Arena in Miami. The 76ers own a 3-1 lead in their first-round series with the Raptors.

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