Nick FriedelESPN staff writer4 minutes to read
boston – Jimmy Butler still believes the Miami Heat will shut out the Boston Celtics and advance to the NBA Finals despite two straight losses cutting their series lead to 3-2.
After losing 110-97 Game 5 Thursday night inside the bustling TD Garden, the Heat lost a total of 30 points over their last two potential games. So why was Butler, who had been strolling outside the locker room quietly eating popcorn after the game, still so confident in his team’s chances?
“Because the last two games we are not who we are,” he said. “It just happened to be that way. We stopped playing defense midway because we didn’t make the shots we wanted to do. But that can be easily rectified. You just have to go out and play harder than the jump. Like I always say, it’s going to be all smiles and we’ll keep it very consistent, Knowing that we will win the next match.”
For one of the first times during his solid postseason career, Butler fell short of the sky-high he set for himself over the past month, scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field as the Celtics dominated. From start to finish.
“Our offense was a little disjointed,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “We weren’t able to start our attack, get the ball where we needed it to go places where it could work. If we can put Jimmy into his comfort zones and strength zones more consistently, he’ll be fine.”
That was the feeling throughout the Heat’s locker room who wasn’t panicked despite the fact that the No. 2 ranked Celtics were playing with a renewed sense of confidence on both ends of the floor.
“I think just give him a steady diet, and we know he’ll find it,” Heat senior man Kevin Love said of Butler. “Based on who he is, based on the numbers, we have no doubt in Game 6 that he’s going to come out and be Jimmy Butler.”
The composure Butler displayed after the Heat’s previous two losses seemed to permeate throughout the locker room, as teammates expressed confidence they would still be able to find their way, especially if guard Gabe Vincent, who missed Game 5 with a sprained left, missed. Ankle, able to return in Game 6.
Why do we lose confidence? Heat center Pam Adebayo said. “When we started this journey, no one believed in us. Everybody thought we’d be knocked out in the first round. Everyone thought we’d be knocked out in the second round. And now here we are one game away. For us, we’ve always had confidence, and that’s not going away.”
Spoelstra did not buy into the idea that his team would be emotionally disappointed.
“Who cares about the mood?” Spoolstra said. “We have a vicious group. I think a lot of that is exaggerated. It’s a competitive series. You always expect things to be tough in the conference finals. One game doesn’t lead to the next. Based on all the experience we’ve had, it doesn’t matter in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if I lost anything.
“We beat them by anything in the third game. It doesn’t matter. It’s about preparing as a team and putting together a great game. We’ll play better on Saturday. That’s all we have to focus on now.”
So will Game 6 Saturday night in Miami feel like Game 7?
“No, it looks like Game 6,” Love said with a chuckle. “But they’re a hungry team. And after losing 3-0 and winning where we are and then winning here, you could say they fight for everything, they fight for everything, and now it’s going to be both teams I feel that, so we need to go out and put in a great show and set the mood.” At home “.
The key to doing that Saturday night was getting Butler to roll quickly after being in relative check in Games 4 and 5.
“We just have to play better,” said Butler. “Better start the game, in the beginning, make it harder for them. They’re in a rhythm from the start of the game. But we’ll always stay positive, knowing we can and we’ll win this series. We’ll just have to lock it up at home.”
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