Jimmy Butler got nothing but an honest assessment for the Miami Heat as they were shredded to pieces by the Boston Celtics to further extend the Conference Finals set to a crucial sixth game on Saturday night.
After amassing the commanding 3-0 series margin, the Heat cooled off for two consecutive games and failed to close out the series to advance to the NBA Finals, suffering from a combined 30-point lead in both losses for Games 4 and 5.
“We just got to play better. Start the game off better. On the starters, make it more difficult for them. They’re in the rhythm since the beginning of the game,” Butler told reporters in the aftermath of the 110-97 Heat loss.
“But we’re always going to stay positive knowing that we can and we will win this series, and we’ll just have to close it out at home.”
The Heat weren’t able to match the impressive two-way play of the Celtics since the start of Thursday’s bout. Butler, for his part, went passive with just 14 points as he was tightly guarded by Boston’s versatile perimeter units.
Instead of dwelling on their poor performance in the last two games, Butler prefers to move forward and prepare for another game of his life as he and his troops head back to South Florida for Game 6.
No team has ever come back from being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven series of the entire history of the NBA Playoffs, but the star swingman is motivated to not hand the C’s any more breathing room to claw an unthinkable series comeback.
“The last two games are not who we are. It just happened to be that way and we stop playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make,” he said.
“But that’s easy to correct. We just got to come out and play harder from jump. So like I always say, it’s gonna be all smiles. We’re gonna keep it very, very, very consistent knowing that we are going to win the next game.”