The Miami Heat (3-2) absolutely dominated the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5 on May 10, winning by 35 points at home at FTX Arena. Heat star Jimmy Butler once again led the team in scoring, drilling 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Following their 120-85 loss, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was asked about how they plan to shut down Butler, who put up 40 points in Game 4 and 33 points in Game 3. Rivers’ cryptic response really didn’t sit well with Heat fans, with many of them tweeting their outrage and tagging the official NBA account while doing so.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
“Jimmy is so comfortable right now,” Rivers told reporters after the game. “It’s really been three games in a row where he’s just doing everything he can that he wants to do. There are adjustments we can make, some we really don’t want to have to make but we may have to.”
“Is that a threat?” one fan asked, while another person demanded, “THE F*** DOES THAT MEAN? @NBA.”
“The f***! Na Fam,” another Heat fan clapped back. “Watch your mouth and actions hoe.”
While many fans took Rivers’ answer as an outward threat, others believed his response was more a comment on the team’s tactical approach: How instead of focusing so much on defending guard Tyler Herro, who put up 10 points in Game 5, the Sixers would have to double up on Butler.
“They just don’t want to play defense don’t read too much into this,” one woman tweeted.
“He means not doubling Herro and doubling Jimmy,” one fan tweeted. “They don’t want to do that because that means your leaving a shooter open every time you double and Miami moves the ball well.”
If Rivers adjusts his defense to focus on stopping Butler, another inherent problem remains: the number of other Heat players capable of scoring. During Game 5, Max Strus scored 19 points with 10 rebounds, while Gabe Vincent, who was filling in for an injured Kyle Lowry, scored 15 points with five rebounds.
A total of seven Heat players scored in double digits on Tuesday night, including Victor Oladipo (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), Bam Adebayo (12 points, six rebounds) and P.J. Tucker (10 points, seven assists, four rebounds).
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said during the postgame conference, “We’re a team that X-factors impact our ability to win and we have a lot of different guys that can be X-factor.”
Butler Said It’s Not Scoring, But Defense That Wins Games
Pitiful 3-point shooting (7-of-35) seemed to be the Heat’s downfall in Game 4, but Butler said after their bounce-back win that he’s not worried about scoring. He said the Heat would win if they remain relentless on defense.
“We just need to continue playing basketball the right way,” Butler, a six-time All-Star said, during an on-court interview after the game. “Us to get stops and not rely on making shots. I promise you. If we don’t give a damn about making shots and we just worry about defense, we will win.”
The Heat Can Close Out the Series on Thursday Night
While the Heat’s winning steak at home in Miami is perfect thus far, they’ll need to win on the road in order to finish up the series in six games. Game 6 is May 12 at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.
“We know how tough it’ll be going back up to Philly,” Spoelstra said during the postgame press conference. “This game can look like a blowout, but we understand it’s just one game.”
If Game 7 is needed, the series will return to Miami on May 15.
READ NEXT: NBA Analysts Slam Heat Coach for Keeping Duncan Robinson Benched