Sunday, June 26, 2022

Former NBA champion opens up on Heat’s playoff chances

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Despite the Miami Heat being tied with the Boston Celtics after two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Erik Spoelstra’s team is being called an underdog.

After the Celtics convincingly defeated Miami on May 19, it quickly became apparent that the Heat would be lucky enough to win another game in the series, largely due to the Celtics’ strength at depth.

Former NBA champion Stephen Jackson is the latest person to line up behind Boston, noting that the Celtics’ game two win on Miami’s home court is the perfect indication of the difference in strength between these two rosters.

“After last night, it looks like Boston will win the series in six games. You’re not like that at home in the playoffs, it basically means the team is 10 times better than you are. If Boston are making shots, it’s clear they’re winning that series. And if anyone expects Jimmy Butler to bring you 40 a night, you haven’t been watching basketball for very long.

Jimmy will bring you 35, bring you 25, will make plays and will be the most versatile player on the court. But his team is still limited. Boston has the stronger team, they have Defensive Player of the Year, they have top two scorers in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and Miami just doesn’t have enough,” Jackson said on a recent episode of The Undisputed.

Jimmy Butler is the heartbeat of this Heat team; it can not be denied. The Star Wing has become a complete player during its time at South Beach and consistently works to encourage and inspire its teammates.

So when Butler speaks, it’s fair to assume the Heat roster will sit up and take notice. And after Miami’s loss in the second game to the Celtics, Butler made sure to send a message to his teammates, letting them know that Boston had come to the building seeking revenge and embarrassed their team as a result.

“They whipped us with their tails on the floor of our house. I don’t see us doing that again…You have to move on, but I don’t want to move on because it has to hurt. They tried to embarrass us. You embarrassed us. We have to recognize that, use it as fuel,” Butler told the media after losing the Heat on May 19.

We may be going into the third game of the series between Miami and Boston, but we’ve yet to see both squads at full strength. Thankfully, the Heat are one step closer to their preferred starting five and will be buoyed by news that Kyle Lowry will be in the running ‘with the intention of playing’ in game three on May 21st.

Discussing Lowry’s potential return to the rotation, Spoelstra spoke glowingly about the veteran guard and what he can bring to the Heat against a Celtics team known for their defensive intensity and ability to knock out guys on the fringes.

“Obviously you have a point guard in the Hall of Fame. It won’t be 40 minutes. But whatever his minutes, he has the experience and the resume. You can’t necessarily strain it; You just know what it means for your team, especially in a building like this, on the go,” Spoelstra told reporters at the Sun Sentinal.

The Heat will be under increasing pressure in the third game as they look to regain the Celtics’ momentum in front of a home crowd at the TD Garden, but they should be heartened by the fact that Boston lost two home games to the Milwaukee Bucks, meaning that Miami has a good chance of regaining control of this series.

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