The Miami Heat (1-0) blew out the Boston Celtics with a resounding 118-107 win during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, May 17, and much of the accolades went to Jimmy Butler, whose 41-point performance with nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks, propelled the team to victory.
The Heat were down 62-54 at halftime before Butler personally outscored the Celtics 17-14 in the third quarter, the second-highest scoring playoff quarter of the six-time All-Star’s career. Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s head coach had nothing but praise for Butler during the postgame conference.
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“Jimmy just really inspired everybody in that third quarter,” Spoelstra said. “Those two steals kind of changed the momentum. And then every time and pocket in the game when we needed to control the game or get the right shot or make the right decision, Jimmy had his fingerprints on that.”
Butler shed more light on that pivotal third quarter during his press conference. “I tell you right now, Spo doesn’t like me, he doesn’t like whenever I do it,” Butler said. “Luckily, I was 2-for-2 on those particular shoot-the-gap passing lanes. But I don’t get them all the time, and then you see him give a look over there.”
The 32-year-old wing “had pushed Spoelstra to the brink,” Windhorst wrote, during which the coach yelled to Butler, “I always knew you were crazy!” The NBA analyst added:
Even some of Spoelstra’s closest friends had never seen him like that, not just the emotional outburst in the huddle but the dark brooding he did for the rest of that quarter, almost stopping coaching as he managed the fury.
For Butler, three seasons’ worth of give-and-take with Spoelstra finally led to finding the line. It wasn’t just that moment with Butler verbally shoving back at his coach; it was a long buildup.”Spo was exasperated,” one team source said.
Heat Fans Can’t Stand How the Butler/Spoelstra Spat Is Still Being Discussed
Windhorst tweeted out the article with the caption, “Despite sometimes being pushed to the limit, the Heat always maintained Jimmy Butler was worth the drama. Last night was a reminder of why:” — which triggered a lot of Heat Nation.
“What drama????? Pushing a narrative that does not exist,” one fan wrote. “Remember that one time during an 82 game season where the coach and player were frustrated during a timeout,” a man replied, while one woman quipped, “Y’all will say anything to avoid saying something positive about the Heat.”
An NBA fan account tweeted, “There was no drama in that locker room they’re just competitive.”
Windhorst noted in his article that since the incident, Miami went 15-6, entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and now, are three wins away from reaching the NBA Finals. “Butler can still drive him up a wall,” the NBA analyst wrote. “And he also can get Spoelstra one step closer to a championship by doing the same to the Celtics.”
As for Butler, he’s going to keep playing bully ball and doing whatever he can to get those dubs. “I want to run into people and see who falls down first, who is going to quit first,” Butler said after the Heat’s Game 1 win over the Celtics. “I think that’s the style of basketball I like to play.”
Heat center Bam Adebayo has no issues with Butler’s style of play. The All-Star said of his teammate on Tuesday night, “He’s relentless. That’s the bottom line. He’s playing incredible basketball, getting guys open. Doing it on both ends.”
Heat/Celtics Game 2 Is on Thursday
The Heat continue to perfect at home during the playoffs, and the Heat once again host the Celtics at the FTX Arena in Miami for Game 2. Here’s the full schedule for the Heat/Celtics series:
Game 2: Thursday, May 19, FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 3: Saturday, May 21, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 4: Monday, May 23, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 5*: May 25: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 6*: May 27, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: May 29: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN