For the first time in this otherwise magical postseason run, the Miami Heat find themselves in an awkward position following Game 1: They’re not leading the series. In openers against the Bucks, Knicks and Celtics, the Heat had come up with convincing wins to get their series started, with an average margin of victory coming in at 9.0 points per game.
Star guard Jimmy Butler led the way each time, averaging 31.7 points on 60.3% shooting in Game 1s. But in the Game 1 loss in Denver in the NBA Finals, Butler scored just 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
Ah, but if you thought this unfamiliar terrain would make for a panicked group of Heatsmen, you’d be quite wrong. On his off day on Friday, Butler entertained his young daughter, Rylee, and played card games with teammates.
“My daughter is out here, so ripping and running with her,” Butler said. “Played a lot of Spades. Spades didn’t go too well for me yesterday, now that I think about it.”
Jimmy Butler Planning Escape Room Outing
There were more off-court shenanigans lined up for Saturday, according to Butler. It is important, he said, for the Heat to leave Game 1 in the rearview mirror and to not put an excess of pressure on themselves now that they are behind in a series for the first time this spring.
“I’m going to do an escape room tonight,” Butler said. “I think my guys went and saw Spiderman today. Just doing normal stuff, because at the end of the day, I’m as normal as they come. It’s not always about basketball. It will never always be about basketball. That’s how I regroup. I stay consistent in that because that’s what I know I can fall back on. My guys, they are going to love me whether I win or lose. My daughter is going to love me whether I win or lose. So that’s what I focus on.”
The Heat are, of course, a No. 8 seed, facing the top-seeded team in the Western Conference on the road. Where Denver had a sweep in its conference finals showdown, the Heat needed seven games to get past the Celtics, after Boston fought back from an 0-3 deficit.
It was hardly a surprise, really, that the Heat struggled in Game 1, given the lack of rest the team had after Game 7 in Boston and the Nuggets’ dominance (now 9-0) at home in the playoffs.
Butler Confident Heat Will ‘Get to Four’
Butler, as is his wont, projected confidence ahead of the second game of this series. He was fine with letting his younger teammates (Butler is 33 years old) head out to an action movie—he was not planning on pulling out a Knute Rockne speech, anyway.
Even after the team struggled pretty much across the board on Thursday, the Heat were upbeat.
“I don’t think too much has to be said, I really don’t,” Butler said. “Down 0-3 up 3-0, you’ve got to get to four. It’s never over. Nobody is ever counted out. You’ve got to get to four. Once you get to four, it’s over with.
“So down 0-1, we know we are going to get to four. We are in there laughing, in there smiling, knowing that we could play better. We will play better. We have to be better if we want to win. Not too much is said. It’s all about what we’re going to do.”
But first, a movie and an escape room.