Erik Spoelstra Sounds Off on Payton Pritchard

Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

Getty Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics

When Jimmy Butler didn’t return to the court for the second half of the Boston Celtics‘ loss to the Miami Heat on May 21, it was reported the star wing was dealing with some knee swelling.

However, it’s now come to light that the Heat believe Butler’s injury may have been sustained during an incident involving Payton Pritchard. The Celtics guard fell between Butler’s legs and is seen grabbing at Miami’s star player’s leg as he tries to get back to his feet.

When speaking to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra sounded off about the incident, citing that he didn’t believe it was a basketball play from Pritchard.

“It was not a basketball play. We’re not sure why it was determined it was a basketball play, or that was a legal play, or that was a safe play,” Spoelstra told Jackson, “We’re not going to say it’s bigger than it was, because we don’t know if that’s what triggered Jimmy’s injury.”

Heat Without Herro for Game Four

Despite Spoelstra sounding off about Butler’s injury, Tyler Herro has been ruled out for game four on May 23 courtesy of a groin injury. Of course, the Heat also have other injury concerns, with the Butler, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent all being listed as questionable leading up to the game.

Herro being out is a major blow for the Heat, as he is one of their better half-court creators, an area of weakness for Miami, even at full strength. So, the Celtics should be able to take advantage of Herro’s absence, assuming they can take care of the ball and limit fast-break opportunities, something they failed to do in game three, giving up 33 fast break points.

However, it’s worth noting that the Celtics are still sweating on the availability of Marcus Smart and Robert Williams – they were both listed as questionable by the team on May 22 via social media. Luckily, according to the same injury report, Jayson Tatum should be good to go after sustaining a slight shoulder injury during the latter moments of Boston’s game three loss.

Al Horford Expects More From His Teammates

Since the start of Boston’s series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the team has been unable to string wins together consistently and have found themselves fighting with their backs against the wall as a result.

Now, the Celtics are back in a similar position and need to win their May 23 contest against the Heat to tie the series up and regain a modicum of control on their Eastern Conference Finals series.

Speaking to reporters following Boston’s 109-103 loss on May 21, Al Horford spoke about his team’s propensity to relax at times, allowing their opponents to gain an early foothold in games.

Al Horford: "We Tend to Relax a Little Bit." | Celtics Game 3 PostgameBOSTON, MA — Al Horford spoke to the media after the Boston Celtics lost to the Boston Celtics 109-103 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Horford scored 20 points with 14 rebounds. Boston will look to even the 2-1 series on Monday at TD Garden. —————————————– – #celtics #NBA #CelticsCLNS The CLNS Media…2022-05-22T05:19:55Z

“We need to come out with more sense of urgency. Coming back home, you tend to relax a little bit, and I think we did that at the beginning. Finally, in the second (half) we started to play a little bit. You can’t spot a team with this many points. It’s tough,” Al Horford told reporters when asked about Boston’s slow start and defensive lapses.

Hopefully, the Celtics will come into game four with a renewed sense of urgency on both sides of the floor. If they lose, it will put them into the unenviable position of having to win three straight games against the top-seeded team in their conference.

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