Despite being at the top of the 40-point mark, Game 1 Hero Jimmy Butler is not too much for his performance rating or achievement.
However, Butler matched a great all-out effort in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night when his Miami hit hosts the Boston Celtics.
Butler scored 41 points and also contributed nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocked shots to help Miami overcome a 13-point, second-quarter deficit on Tuesday’s 118-107 win.
This was Butler’s fifth 40-point performance in his three seasons play-off with The Heat – only the franchise icon Dwayne Wade (seven) was even more – but he downplayed the move to meet this moment.
“Probably because it’s a big stage or a small stage or I don’t care who’s watching,” Butler said. “I do what I do for my family, for my people, for my organization, and for my teammates. That’s it. It’s a big stage, no matter at home or away. I know why I do what I do. “
Boston didn’t know how to stop him, especially when Butler scored 17 points in the third quarter, starting with a 22-2 Miami run and ending with a 17-3 explosion.
The Celtics ’62-54 halftime lead evaporated and the team entered the final stop 93-76 behind.
Boston guard Jillian Brown says her club will have to push Butler into Game 2.
“She’s comfortable,” Brown said. “She is OK. She is OK. We have to take up the challenge. “
Brown noted that the Celtics allowed 118 points was “illegal”.
Part of the problem was sitting in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart (right foot) competition and scratching the big man Al Harford (COVID-19 protocol) late. Smart is likely to return on Thursday night when Harford (listed as suspicious) could virtually return to Boston for Saturday’s Game 3.
Also, Celtics coach Ime Udoka missed Wednesday’s off-day media session due to a non-COVID illness.
Despite the losses of Smart and Harford, the Celtics were exposed in the third quarter when they scored 39-14 and made just 2 of 15 field-goal attempts with eight turnovers.
Boston star Jason Tatum has committed six of his seven turnovers to the stanza.
“I will be the first one to say that I am to blame for this,” Tatum said. “I have to lead better. I have to play better, especially at that moment. I’m just waiting for the next game. “
Celtics guard Payton Pritchard reduced the ball-protection issues overnight with Tatam contributing 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.
“It simply came to our notice then. Players can make mistakes, “said Pritchard. “We will be back in the next match, be prepared for that. We will adjust and be ready to go. “
While Boston will definitely adjust to Butler’s slow pace, the Hit will be aiming to help their Star a bit in Game 2. Tyler Hero scored 18 points from the bench and Vincent added 17 points to starter Gabe. No other hit player has scored more than 11 runs.
Of course, Butler has three 40-point outings this post-season so perhaps a Game 2 iteration is possible.
“You can’t expect him to get 40,” said veteran forward PJ Tucker. “He’s constantly being aggressive, he’s making shots, he’s missing shots, whatever the case, and it can be able to rebound everyone else and help people and he can get open shots by creating drama for everyone else. It improves our team level and it improves everyone’s game. “
Don’t be surprised if hit coach Eric Spoelstra has another butler splurge in Game 2.
“Jimmy Butler is an elite competitor,” says Spoelstra. “A lot of the boys in this league are playing basketball; He is competing for the win. It’s a completely different thing, and he does it just like anyone else in this league.
Miami dropped Kyle Lowry (left hamstring) for Game 2. He has missed seven of the last nine games.
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