Heat’s P.J. Tucker Breaks Silence on Bucks Missing Conference Finals

P.J. Tucker

Getty P.J. Tucker #17 of the Miami Heat during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at FTX Arena on May 02, 2022.

The Miami Heat will face the Boston Celtics when the Eastern Conference Finals start on Tuesday, May, 17. The series stands to be incredibly competitive, as these are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams fighting for a run at the championship title.

However, if Heat forward P.J. Tucker could’ve chosen which opponent the Heat would face in the final divisional round, it would’ve been a series against his former team, and last year’s champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

On Monday, May 16, the morning after the Celtics absolutely smashed the Bucks 109-81 in Game 7, Tucker was asked how he felt about the Heat’s upcoming opponent.

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Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted, “PJ Tucker on being denied a revenge matchup against the Bucks, ‘I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to play Milwaukee.'”

Tucker signed with the Heat in free agency this past offseason after the Bucks decided it wasn’t worth going over the salary cap to re-sign the veteran forward. Tucker was indispensable during the Bucks’ playoff run to the Finals last year, and during an interview with Andscape‘s Marc Spears earlier this month, the 37-year-old swingman opened up his breakup with Milwaukee:

Even as a vet being around, it’s like, ‘All right, you f****** replaced me. Cool.’ You figure it out and that’s just what I had to do. And for me, it wasn’t even about money. It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing.’

Tucker Is Thriving With the Heat

Tucker’s fit into Heat culture has been seamless, and head coach Erik Spoelstra quickly became his biggest fan. Spolestra said back in November, “I think P.J.’s one of the best screeners in this modern-day era. In terms of his nuance with it, IQ, timing, deception, feel, and his variety of different ways to get guys open, it really is remarkable.”

“He can do it in pick-and-rolls, off-ball, in hammer screens, a lot of things that you can’t really teach,” Spoelstra continued. “You have to have such a superior level of mind and IQ for the timing of those kind of screens. It’s been really fun to see that part of his genius off the ball. He’s as good as anyone I’ve seen.”

Spoelstra and Tucker’s relationship only grew stronger as the season went on, so much so that the veteran forward feels comfortable pitching new defensive schemes to Coach Spo.

During the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, “I told Coach, ‘There’s no way they’re going to disrespect me and put point guards on me.’ I told him that last game when they did it for the whole fourth quarter and I didn’t get a chance at any post-ups.”

“He yelled at me,” Spoelstra said, half-seriously, per NBA.com. “I said, ‘Alright, that sounds like a good idea.'” The new plan worked and Heat eliminated the Hawks in five games.

The Full Heat Vs. Celtics Schedule

Because the Heat entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed, the Eastern Conference Finals will kick off in Miami at the FTX Arena. The Heat have been perfect at home during the playoffs thus far, therefore having homecourt advantage gives Miami a huge edge heading into their series against the Celtics:

Game 1: Tuesday, FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Thursday, FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 3: Saturday, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 4: 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

READ NEXT: Hawks Star Calls Out Heat’s Twitter for Disrespecting Gabe Vincent

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