The Boston Celtics were kicked to the curb by the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite winning three of the four quarters, Miami’s red-hot third quarter was enough to will them to a victory. However, the Celtics bounced back in Game 2.
On Thursday night, the Celtics thrashed the Heat in Game 2, taking home a 127-102 win. Marcus Smart and Al Horford returned to the lineup just in time to help the Celtics even the series, as Boston managed to steal homecourt advantage. They will now head back to TD Garden for Games 3 and 4.
After the contest, Heat star Jimmy Butler told the media that the Celtics set out to embarrass Miami in Game 2 and succeeded in their mission.
“You do gotta move on. I don’t like to move on from this because it has to hurt. They tried to embarrass us, they did embarrass us, so I think we gotta realize that,” Butler stated. “Use it as fuel, whatever you wanna say, but realize that the game can get out of hand whenever you’re playing a really good team like them that can score the ball and get stops. Overall, we just have to be better. We got a tough job to do to go over there and win. But if they can do it, we can do it as well.”
Despite the embarrassment, Butler still managed to drop 29 points and six rebounds. Smart gave Butler props, explaining why it’s so tough to match up against him.
Smart on Butler: ‘Jimmy’s a Warrior’
During his post-game interview, Smart was asked about Butler. The Celtics point guard showed Butler a ton of respect, complimenting his basketball IQ and warrior mindset.
“Jimmy’s a warrior man. Jimmy’s been doing this for a long time,” said Smart. “He understands the game, he understands his strengths, and he understands his team’s strengths. So when you got a guy that has an IQ like Jimmy’s, it’s always going to be a tough matchup.”
While Smart was quick to give Butler his flowers, the Celtics point guard put up the better numbers in Game 2. After missing the first game of the series, Smart dropped 24 points, nine rebounds, and 12 assists in Game 2. He shot 8-for-22 from the field and 5-for-12 from three-point range.
The Celtics fan-favorite also lit things up on the defensive end, nabbing three steals and a block. He explained what his defensive assignment was after the game.
Smart Explains Defensive Assignment on Butler
According to Smart, his job in Game 2 was to make life difficult for Butler. However, he also credited his teammates, saying that they worked together to slow down the Heat superstar.
“My assignment was just to make everything tough for him. We knew he was going to hit some shots, but if he did, he had to work for them,” Smart explained. “That’s just the way I came in. It was a full team effort, it wasn’t just me. I had some help from everybody. We threw some guys at him, we all had a chance. That’s what it comes down to. We’re all pros, we’re all good, we’re going to make tough shots. We just wanna make it as hard as possible for him.”
After Butler’s Game 1 explosion, slowing him down in Game 2 was the logical solution. The Heat forward finished with 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks in Miami’s Game 1 victory. Those numbers were cut down significantly in Game 2 thanks to Smart’s and the Celtics’ defensive pressure.
The Celtics will host the Heat at TD Garden in Game 3, which takes place on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.