18 May, 2023
BOSTON — There is a tangible sense of Jimmy Butler’s self-confidence and that of his Miami Heat teammates in the locker room.
The superstar swingman acknowledged that he always thought this kind of run was possible for the eighth-seeded Heat, despite all the challenges that have appeared in their path throughout the season, after he dominated yet another postseason game, scoring 35 points while racking up seven assists, six steals, and five rebounds in Wednesday night’s 123-116 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“Damn right I did,” Butler remarked. Sure enough, we did. The best part is that, in all honesty, we still don’t care what any of you think. If you think we will win, we don’t care. Never have we. We won’t ever. We are familiar with the individuals that share this locker room. We are aware of how much faith and trust Coach [Erik Spoelstra] has in each and every one of us. also Coach Pat Riley.
“So our circle is small, but the circle got so much love for one another. We pump constant confidence into everybody. We go out there and we hoop and we play basketball the right way, knowing that we’ve always got a chance.”
Results of the first game of the Eastern Conference finals: Miami Heat robs home court
In the midst of a dream playoff run that only they imagined was possible, the Heat are still playing their greatest basketball. The Heat defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in five games and the No. 5 seed New York Knicks in six after edging past the Chicago Bulls in the final Eastern Conference play-in game last month. They now lead the Celtics, who they defeated to reach the NBA Finals last season, 1-0.
The Heat are thriving in an underdog role, which is highlighted by their stellar play over the past month after an up-and-down regular season. The Heat have won Game 1 in each of their first three series during the 2023 postseason.
Heat center Bam Adebayo said, “I would say that everybody counted us out from the beginning was kind of what builds that chip. “But also the challenges we’ve faced during the entire season, the highs and lows, and the games we should have won but didn’t. We got into this situation by going to the locker room and attempting to work it out, undo whatever we did wrong, and going through that.
“Now I feel like we are, like you said, one of the best teams in the league, because adversity built this. We all looked each other in the face and said, this is the second play-in game, this is our last run. This is it. From there, man, I just felt like everybody just bought into that will. I feel like we’ve just been willing wins.”
Butler is currently willing more victories than anybody else in the league. Butler assisted in organizing a third-quarter comeback during which Miami outscored Boston 46-25 while shooting 17 of 26 from the floor after the Heat trailed by nine points at the break on Wednesday.
Regarding the current belief Butler brings to the Heat roster, Spoelstra stated, “You can’t quanitify it. There’s no analytic to it. Just the feeling of stability in the locker room. Even when you’re down nine in the first half … there’s just a settling effect that is impossible to quantify.
“Like, all right, we are in striking distance. Let’s just settle into our game, and Jimmy will make a bunch of plays, Bam will make a bunch of plays and everybody will be all right and everybody will just fit into their roles. But that’s what the great players do.”
When he described what it’s like to play with Butler right now, Heat guard Gabe Vincent spoke for many in the locker room.
We believe we can compete with and against anyone when Jimmy is playing like that, he said. “We have a few guys like that in this locker room, but Jimmy is unique.”
Butler dismissed the idea that this is the pinnacle of his talent throughout the years, which is terrifying for the rest of the league.
Butler responded, “I don’t think so. “I genuinely believe that everything is possible in life if you are given the chance and have the faith that my teammates, coaches, Coach Pat, and ownership have in me to sort of lead the charge alongside Bam right now.
“They are letting me play at an exceptional level, and I appreciate that. My game is not being restricted by them. On defense, they are putting their trust in me with the ball. I believe every basketball player desires that. Anyone who wants to succeed in life simply wants to be loved, valued, and free to perform.
Butler’s teammates and coaches value him since they are aware of the improvements he makes to the squad each night.
“It’s fun,” Heat guard Kyle Lowry said. “He’s one of the best players in the world for a reason. It’s just a joy to watch it. For a guy that wants it so bad and works so hard at his craft, it’s important to enjoy his success. He gives us all the confidence to be successful and be aggressive and be assertive. That’s what makes him special, that it’s not all about him. He’s about our group and our team and everyone else.”