In the first round of the playoffs, Miami surprised everyone by knocking out Milwaukee, perhaps the big favorite to win the championship. After that, she easily eliminated the Knicks and tonight the experienced team of Erik Spoelstra opened the Eastern Conference Finals with a huge victory, 116:123 in Boston and stole the home team from the team that eliminated them in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. The first half ended with a clear advantage for the hosts of 57:66, but then the show of “Mr. Money Time” Jimmy Butler began.
The Miami star, who has looked great since the start of these playoffs, scored 20 of his 35 points in the second half and starred in the third quarter where the Heat trampled Boston with an incredible 25:46 and broke a playoff record for points in a quarter. “I play at an amazing level because my friends allow me to do it,” Butler said after the game, “They don’t limit my game. They trust me when I have the ball and also my defense. That’s all a basketball player wants.”
It was Butler’s fifth game with at least 30 points in these playoffs and he also added 7 assists, 5 rebounds and no less than six steals. Butler joined Dwyane Wade as the second player in Heat history with at least 30 points and 6 steals in a playoff game. “He is one of the best players in this league,” Eric Spoelsta praised his star, “this is exactly what we needed. In the decisive moments, Jimmy did everything we needed from him as a scorer and assist player.”
Even though Butler is showing incredible basketball in the second straight playoffs, the commentators didn’t really count Miami out early in this playoff and this series. Butler was asked after the game if he expected the Heat to be in this situation and responded: “And how else did I expect us to be in this situation. The best part is we really don’t care what you think about us, honestly. We don’t care if you think we’re going to win, we never did. And we won’t care.”
“We know what a bunch of players we have in the locker room, we know the coach gives us a lot of confidence and faith,” added Butler, our circle is small, but everyone loves each other. We guard and score, we play basketball the right way and that’s how we know we’ll always have a chance.
However, even though they stole the home team as they also did to Milwaukee and the Knicks, the betting agencies still give Miami only a 44 percent chance to get through this series and qualify for the finals. The second game in the series will be held on Friday night in Boston and another victory will already make it a clear favorite to meet Denver or the Lakers in the grand final.
On the other hand, Jayson Tatum, who single-handedly dismantled Philadelphia in game number 7 in the previous round, scored 30 points but did not take a single shot in the fourth quarter. “I don’t know why it happened,” said Tatum, whose team also lost the home opener in the previous series against Philadelphia. “We have to play our game, whether it’s at home or whether it’s away,” Tatum added.