Heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics on Thursday, Erik Spoelstra was asked how he felt about his team still being perceived as an underdog by some despite being one win away from an NBA Finals berth.
Spoelstra’s response to the question: “We don’t give a s***.”
Flash forward to now and even after the Heat dropped that and the previous contest to turn what was once a 3-0 series advantage into a 3-2 battle, it would seem that the South Beach crew hasn’t been shaken out of that mindset.
For his part, Jimmy Butler is promising that the ultimate result of the matchup will be the same despite the fact that Miami lost Games 4 and 5 by a combined 30 points.
“We just got to play better, start the games off better on the starters, make it more difficult for them,” Butler told reporters after the Cs’ latest win. “They’re in the rhythm since the beginning of the game but we’re always going to stay positive knowing that we can and we will win this series and we’ll just have to close it out at home.”
Jimmy Butler Is Calling His Shot Against the Celtics for Game 6
Butler had one of his quieter games of the current postseason on Thursday, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, although he did add five assists, five rebounds and two steals. Despite the offensive downturn, not to mention the uneven effort of his team on the whole recently, he’s as confident as ever in where the Heat are going.
“The last two games are not who we are. It just happened to be that way and we stop playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make,” Butler said. “But that’s easy to correct. We just got to come out and play harder from the jump.”
Clearly, he believes that those corrections will happen, going so far as to double-down on the notion that the club will snag a series-clinching win in its return to Kaseya Center on Saturday.
“Like I always say, it’s gonna be all smiles. We’re gonna keep it very, very, very consistent knowing that we are going to win the next game.”
ESPN’s Stephen A Smith Calls Game 6 a Must-Win for Miami
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith doesn’t appear to share Butler’s enthusiasm about the Heat’s prospects going forward. During Friday’s episode of Get Up!, the longtime analyst opined that the club may as well pack it up if it can’t finish the Celtics off in the next game.
“They are in a world of trouble,” Smith declared. “Game 6 is an absolute must-win. The pressure is all on the Miami Heat when you consider the fact that 150 teams have tried and all have failed to overcome an 0-3 deficit.
“For Miami to be in a position where they’re up 3-0 — clearly when it was against a better Boston team top-to-bottom talent wise — you put yourself in that position and you go to South Beach tomorrow night and you lose that game and have to come back and face Jayson Tatum in a Game 7 in Boston? Good luck with that. The Miami Heat have to win Game 6 tomorrow night in South Beach.”
Every game/series/playoffs/season is different, of course, but history isn’t exactly on the Celtics’ side. The last time a team forced a Game 7 after falling to 0-3 in a series was all the way back in 2003 when the Portland Trail Blazers caught fire against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
They lost steam in the end, though, dropping Game 7 by double digits.