After a grueling seven-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers in round two of the NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics now find themselves gearing up for an Eastern Conference Finals date with a hungry and motivated Miami Heat team.
Though Joe Mazzulla and company are the higher seed and, thus, hold the coveted home-court advantage, Jimmy Butler doesn’t seem to think these factors will matter all that much during their upcoming series, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that he predicts the Heat will be the ultimate victors.
“This year is our year. We’re going to go into this Game 1 and do what we’re supposed to do and be the first one to four. We are very capable of it. We have enough. Guys are playing some incredible basketball. I like our chances, as does everyone in this organization,” Jimmy Butler said.
Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have been absolutely dominant on both ends of the floor throughout this year’s postseason, and are tied with the Denver Nuggets for the best record during their run at 8-3.
Butler, individually, has also been electric during his 10 games played, as he’s boasting sensational averages of 31.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, and just shy of a block while shooting 52.7% from the field and 36.1% from deep.
Despite the fact that the Celtics have the better odds of pulling out a series win, it’s the Heat star who believes that his club’s good fortunes of late will continue on and, in turn, lead them to this year’s NBA Finals.
Jaylen Brown Understands Heat Are ‘Different’
The 2023 conference finals mark the third time over the last four seasons that the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will be directly competing to represent the East in the NBA Finals.
However, despite their familiarity with one another, during a recent practice day interview, Jaylen Brown acknowledged that this iteration of the Heat is a bit different than the ones that they’ve played before.
“They got a different team in a sense that they got some injuries. Some guys are playing better than they were last year. It’s not the same team as last year. Jimmy is still Jimmy and [Erik Spoelstra] is still Spo so we gotta make sure that we’re aware of everybody else: Kevin Love, [Max] Strus, Duncan Robinson’s playing in this series. We just got to be alert,” Jaylen Brown said.
The Celtics star would continue on by acknowledging that Miami has been on a tremendous tear as of late, as “they beat a number one team, they beat a hungry New York Knicks team” and that it’s now up to them to “find a way to cool the Heat off.”
Al Horford Urging Celtics to Stay Focused
Coming into their upcoming series against the Miami Heat, Al Horford has been quite vocal about his team’s need to remain focused and hungry.
When recently speaking with Heavy on Sports’ NBA insider Steve Bulpett, the veteran big man acknowledged that while this Celtics team has quite a number of young talents and, thus, will likely remain competitive for years to come, opportunities to win a championship aren’t ever guaranteed.
“If you look at it, the reality is that even though a lot of younger guys think they have opportunities and will have more of them, these doors close,” Al Horford told Steve Bulpett. “You know what I’m saying?
“So when we’re in these positions, I think everybody is starting to understand that, you know, even though, ‘Oh, I’m young. I have time,’ and this and that, it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to be in these positions,” Horford said. “That’s something that I feel like we understand, and that’s why we’re trying to make the most of it.”
Bulpett would add that Horford’s sentiment has been strongly backed by Celtics teammate Blake Griffin, who, now in his 14 season in the association and his first in Boston, is also still seeking a championship.