It’s hard to believe that it’s only been four months since the Miami Heat took on the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Finals last season. After the shortest off-season in NBA history, the two teams face off for the first time since the Lakers won out as champions on October 11.
While the Lakers continue to be a dominant force in the Western Conference, sitting in second place with a 22-8 record, the Heat, who came within two games of beating LeBron James and company for the title, are powering through a disastrous first half of the season. Miami is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a 12-17 record.
Following the Heat’s first win over the last four games on February 18, five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler was asked how he felt about the team’s performance before facing the Lakers on Saturday. His answer was brutal.
“It’s the same thing over and over for us,” Butler said. “It’s like we get a lead, we messing around, we get lazy. Good teams don’t do that. And I feel like we’re ways away from being a good team right now, not gonna lie.”
The 31-year-old Heat was clearly not in the mood to celebrate breaking Heat franchise history with his third consecutive triple-double performance or the team’s 118-110 win over the Sacramento Kings. Butler kept emotions at bay when discussing how the Heat are preparing for the primetime Lakers matchup on Saturday, February 20.
“I don’t think anybody’s worried about what last year had, what happened,” Butler said. “We wanted to win. Yeah, they got a championship out of it. Both teams got a different team. We’re going to be locked in on just that day and who can get that win.”
Bam Adebayo & Kelly Olynyk Delivered Brutally Honest Thoughts About Facing the Lakers
When Bam Adebayo, who also nabbed a triple-double in Thursday night’s victory over the Kings, was asked about facing the Lakers, the big man got sad. “I don’t know,” Adebayo said. “Anytime I see the Lakers, I think of we lost the Finals. So we go to be better.”
Kelly Olynyk, who finally showed some spirit on the court Thursday night, racking up a season-high 22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal, struggled to believe it’s only been four months since they played the Lakers in the bubble.
“It feels kind of like a blur,” Olynyk said. “Some days it feels like yesterday you were in the Finals. And then other days, you’re like, ‘Man, I don’t even remember the Finals.’”
“It’s like such a crazy time,” the 29-year-old center continued. “It’s been such a crazy year. But, obviously, we’re looking forward to it, just getting on the floor and playing another game.”
Coach Spo Said He ‘Literally’ Has Not Been Thinking About the Lakers
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra, who’s taken the fault for a few of the Heat’s fourth-quarter collapses of late, said that he genuinely hasn’t thought about their upcoming matchup against the Lakers until now.
“We’ve been so wrapped up in each one of these games on the road trip, I literally haven’t given it a second thought to this point,” Spoelstra said. “But yeah, I’m sure the guys will be looking forward to it.”
“They’re a great team,” Spoelstra added. “If you’re a competitor, you want to take on that challenge against the world champions.”