It’s time to see what the Miami Heat are made of.
There’s a golden opportunity within reach – a chance to grab a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals – with a timely four-day gap in between. After an impressive 9-1 start to the postseason, Miami surrendered its first loss since nearly sweeping the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of the conference semis.
The Boston Celtics handed the Heat only their second defeat since August 14 – Miami’s regular-season finale. And with its longest rest of the series, a rare break between Saturday’s Game 3 and Wednesday night’s matchup, it gives both sides plenty of time to recalibrate before focusing on Game 4.
Although the Heat hold a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, Celtics guard Gordon Hayward’s Game 3 return added an interesting wrinkle to the series as Boston held off a fourth-quarter Heat comeback in Saturday’s 117-106 win, thus increasing the Celtics’ chances of evening the best-of-7 series. Now, the pressure’s on Eric Spoelstra and the Heat to counter.
Jimmy Butler On Game 3: ‘We Didn’t Play Hard Enough’
All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, who netted 17 points on 6-of-13 in Game 3, says he and his teammates didn’t put forth enough effort Saturday night.
“We didn’t play hard enough,” Butler said, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I think we didn’t do anything that we said that we were going to do. We knew how they were going to attack us. We weren’t helping each other. We weren’t making an extra pass a lot of the times. We have to play basketball the way we have been playing the game that we have been winning. We understand that. There’s nothing that Coach can say. There’s nothing that OG (Udonis Haslem) can say. We get it. We have to be the ones to fix that.”
The Heat were on the cusp of erasing an 18-point deficit. After the Celtics topped the Heat 31-22 at the end of the opening frame, the Heat spent the rest of the night chasing a lead they never grabbed; Boston didn’t trail Miami once.
“I think it gets old, playing from behind consistently,” Butler said. “Especially against a great team like Boston and what they bring to the table.”
Bam Adebayo: ‘We’re Not That Type Of Team’
Brad Stevens managed to correct some of the Celtics’ second-half deficiencies from Game 1, 2 that led to his team blowing humongous leads, including a 14-point advantage in the fourth quarter of the series opener. The Heat then dug themselves out of a 15-point hole in the second half of Game 2 and nearly pulled it off a third time, still, All-Star center Bam Adebayo says the Heat need to change their approach and set the tone early.
“We’ve got to start the game how we start the fourth,” Adebayo responded. “I feel like we’re not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth we just try to turn it on. It’s not like that. We’re not that type of team.”