After absorbing all the hype and momentum from taking a commanding 0-3 lead in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat suddenly stumbled for the next two games with the Boston Celtics still alive and elevating their sense of urgency.
As he was questioned if he had any concerns about Miami now settling under pressure after failing to seize two-straight chances to advance and going down for a combined 30 points in both losses, coach Erik Spoelstra dismissed any lowly mood potentially swirling around the Heat camp.
“Who cares about mood? Like, we are a gnarly group. I think so much of that is overrated. It’s a competitive spirit, you always expect things to be challenging in the Conference Finals,” said Spoelstra. “One game doesn’t lead to the next game. Based on all the experience we’ve had, it doesn’t matter if you lose by whatever.
“We beat them by whatever in Game 3. It just doesn’t matter. It’s about collectively preparing and putting together a great game. We’ll play much better on Saturday, and that’s all we just have to focus on right now.”
The narratives have switched up as Boston found that series-altering energy. After coming out big in Game 4 to escape a potential sweep, they repeated their strong performance in Game 5 in front of their thousands of frenzied fans within the TD Garden.
The C’s shot lights out from the field as four different starters tallied 20+ points. At the side of the Heat, they weren’t able to match it as Jimmy Butler was held down to just 14 points and Bam Adebayo registered 16.
With Gabe Vincent’s gritty and solid demeanor sorely missed in Thursday because of an ankle sprain, Spoelstra insisted that missing their starting point man isn’t an excuse to allow themselves to get a pass from another horrible performance for the second game in a row.
In four games of the series, the undrafted guard maintained his solid display in the playoffs by averaging 17.5 points, 2.3 assists, 2.0 boards in a red-hot 57.9 percent shooting (50 percent from threes).
“There’s no excuses. Not at all,” Spoelstra said about Vincent’s absence impacting their Game 5 loss. “The Celtics outplayed us tonight. That would be a disservice to how they took control of this game.
Spoelstra and Miami will look to close out Boston on the critical Game 6 back home in South Beach this Saturday night.