The Celtics raced out to an 18-1 lead and never looked back, thoroughly thumping Miami from start to finish. Butler has been dealing with an injury, missing the second half of Game 3 with swelling in his right knee. He scored just six points but didn’t use the injury as a crutch.
“I’m straight,” Butler told reporters after the game. “No excuse for how I played tonight. It don’t got nothing to do with my knee. I’ve just got to be better. I will be better. I’m not too worried about it.”
No Heat starter scored in double-figures, with Butler going 3-of-14 from the field.
Jimmy Butler Preaching For More Physical Play
Butler said the key is to simplify things and to avoid playing hero ball, especially with Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro out of the lineup. Herro is dealing with a left groin strain.
“Move the ball. Get it from one side to the other. Keep the game extremely simple. Whenever we tend to do that, we tend to play well,” Butler said after the Heat shot just 33% from the field. “When anybody tries to hit a home run and do it by themselves, we kind of get in trouble. Ball sticks. We turn the ball over. We take a bad shot. We just need to do everything together like we’ve been doing all year long. It will be on myself, on Kyle, on Bam to make sure that we make that happen.”
Butler also wants to see his team get more physical and force the issue when it comes to getting to the line. Miami made just eight free throws as a team in the loss, compared to 32 from the Celtics.
“I think we just got to be more physical. Like I said, when you shoot a lot of jump shots, which we tended to do tonight, it’s hard getting to the free-throw line,” Butler said. “I think we have to be more of a forceful-type team, getting into the paint, not shying away from contact and playing from the inside out. Whenever we do that and not shoot as many jumpers, we might get fouled a little bit.”
Heat Won’t Be Scared to Win Ugly Against Celtics
The series now shifts back to Miami with things knotted up at 2-2. Much like Butler, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra did not make any excuses and believes his team can win in a variety of ways.
“Our guys love competition and our team has proven that we have a bunch of different ways that we can find a solution to get a win,” Spoelstra told reporters. “We can do it in the mud. We can win it ugly. We can win it when the floodgates come open hitting threes. We can do it with Jimmy taking over a game. We can do it when he’s facilitating. We have the mental fortitude and the collective toughness to be able to embrace what we have. It’s just a very competitive, good series.”
There’s reason for the Heat to have some confidence heading home. After getting beatdown in Game 2 — a game in which the Celtics led by 34 at one point — Miami came back and won Game 3 in Boston.
Miami is an early 1-point underdog for the Game 5 matchup, with the total set at 203.5 points.