After Game 1, Jimmy Butler told the press that the Miami Heat did not care what anyone thought about them and whether or not they got picked to win the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. That speech, of course, came after the Heat came back from a double-digit deficit to steal the first game.
Well, now fans and pundits may have no choice but to favor the Heat, as they once again came back to shock the Celtics at home to take the 2-0 lead heading back to Miami for Games 3 and 4.
Butler was his usual self with an all-around statline of 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. He made tough shots, got big stops on defense and left the Celtics flummoxed. Butler’s defense caused Jayson Tatum to commit a charge with 1:38 left with the Heat clinging to a 103-100 lead, then poked the ball away twice from Tatum a couple of possessions later to stop him from getting a good attempt at the basket.
Butler, who has built a reputation for grit and hard work, also taught Grant Williams a lesson in why you shouldn’t poke the bear. Williams decided to talk a bunch of shit to Butler after hitting a three that put the Celtics up 96-87 and his antics spectacularly backfired.
After that moment, the Heat answered with a 24-9 run to close out the game. Butler scored nine of those points to match the entire Celtics squad and trusted his teammates to handle the rest.
Boy, did his teammates deliver as well. Bam Adebayo was just shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, while also coming up with a key putback that preserved a close lead for the Heat in the final minute of the game.
A ton of credit also has to go to Caleb Martin, who had a great second quarter where he scored 12 points and keyed a 19-2 run that helped the Heat retake the lead. He went on to finish the game with 25 points, four rebounds, an assist and a block. Duncan Robinson also chipped in 15 points off the bench, while Gabe Vincent had nine points on 2 of 8 shooting but hit a huge shot that put the Heat up by four with 35.1 seconds left in the game.
The Celtics will now be reeling with the realization that they have to try to get at least one win away from home to stay alive in the series. That’s a tall ask, but they have performed better on the road than at home this postseason. Tatum, who scored 15 points in the third quarter, did not make a field goal in the fourth quarter and scored just five points from the free throw line. Jaylen Brown only had three points in the final period.
Butler and the Heat, on the other hand, will be all smiles. Butler’s faith in his teammates was rewarded in Game 2, and he acknowledged them in his quick postgame interview.