Jimmy Butler has been a difference maker since coming to Miami, and he proved in Thursday’s Game 2 that it doesn’t have to be with scoring, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Butler shot just 4-of-11 from the field and was limited to 14 points, but he played a huge role on defense as the Heat held the Celtics to 41 points in the second half and just seven in the game’s final 4:25.
“That was winning basketball tonight from Jimmy Butler,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not about the final line. … Jimmy did so many things in that second half that impacted winning on both ends of the floor. Either the average fan sees it or they don’t, but we don’t care.”
After a bumpy relationship with teammates and management in both Chicago and Minnesota, Butler has been a seamless fit with Miami, which emphasizes both peak conditioning and unfiltered communication. The “Heat culture” played a huge role in Butler’s desire to join the team when he hit free agency last summer.
“We look each other in the eye and tell each other when it’s BS,” Butler said. “Spo is going to do it. I’m going to do it. Jae (Crowder) is going to do it. Tyler (Herro) is going to do it. Duncan (Robinson), all the way down the line. … We know when we’re not playing the way that we’re supposed to be playing. And as bad as it sounds, it’s like a switch. It just turns on, and oh, there we go right there. I’m telling you, straight-face communication, move on and get it done.”
There’s more Heat news to pass along:
- With Miami trailing by 13 points at halftime Thursday, Spoelstra challenged Bam Adebayo to be “All-Defensive team Bam,” according to Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Adebayo responded not only with better defense, but with 15 third-quarter points to help lead the comeback. He’s an emerging star at age 23 and has become a greater pick-and-roll weapon in the postseason. “Bam is set up for how the league is moving forward: big, athletic, can do multiple things,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “Really carved out a space for himself in this league.”
- With shooters being a priority throughout the NBA, Rob Mahoney of The Ringer examines how the Heat were able to find Robinson as an undrafted free agent. After signing a summer league deal with Miami in 2018, Robinson blossomed as a scorer this season, pouring in 13.5 PPG and shooting .446 from 3-point range.
- Andre Iguodala sat out the second half of Game 2 with a “tight back,” tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.
- Competition from other sports has affected the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The every-other-day rotation would normally have Game 4 on Monday, but it has been pushed back to Wednesday to avoid going head-to-head with Monday Night Football. A potential Game 7 may be September 29 or 30, but ESPN has seven baseball playoff series on those dates.