How Jimmy Butler’s Heat Keeps ‘Not Caring’ To Success

Miami Heat, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

All postseason, the Miami Heat have been underdogs. Coming in as the No. 8 seed after losing the first NBA Play-In Tournament game to the Atlanta Hawks, it certainly wasn’t a surprising position to be in.

Not many people gave them a chance to compete against the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Not only did they compete, they dominated, eliminating the Bucks in five games. In Round 2 they garnered a little more respect going up against the No. 5 seed New York Knicks, but once again many thought their run would come to an end.

Those people were wrong, again. Miami eliminated their old-school rivals, defeating them in six games. Once again the Heat were considered major underdogs heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. Once again, they came out firing, taking a 1-0 series lead with a lights-out shooting performance in Game 1.

“Damn right I did,” Butler said. “Damn right we did. And the best part about it is we still don’t care what none of y’all think, honestly speaking. We don’t care if you pick us to win. We never have. We never will. We know the group of guys we have in this locker room. We know that Coach [Erik Spoelstra] puts so much confidence and belief in each and every one of us. Coach Pat [Riley] as well.

“So our circle is small, but the circle got so much love for one another. We pump constant confidence into everybody. We go out there and we hoop and we play basketball the right way, knowing that we’ve always got a chance.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

The Celtics had no answers for the Heat in Game 1, as they shot 54.1 percent overall and 51.6 percent from 3-point range in a 123-116 victory. That makes Miami 3-for-3 when it comes to Game 1s this postseason, winning every game on the road and in convincing fashion.

Once again it was Butler leading the way. He poured in a game-high 35 points to go along with five rebounds, seven assists and six steals. Butler, as he has been all postseason, was a force on both ends of the court.

“You can’t quantify it,” Spoelstra said of the belief Butler is bringing to the rest of the Heat’s roster right now. “There’s no analytic to it. Just the feeling of stability in the locker room. Even when you’re down nine in the first half … there’s just a settling effect that is impossible to quantify.

“Like, all right, we are in striking distance. Let’s just settle into our game, and Jimmy will make a bunch of plays, Bam will make a bunch of plays and everybody will be all right and everybody will just fit into their roles. But that’s what the great players do.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

Bam Adebayo had a solid game himself to aid Butler, scoring 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists. He thoroughly outplayed his counterparts in Al Horford and Robert Williams III, who combined for 21 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. The Heat center had a game-high +18 plus/minus ratio.

“I would say that everybody counted us out from the beginning was kind of what builds that chip,” Adebayo said. “But also the adversity that we’ve been through the whole season, the ups and downs, the games we should have won but didn’t win. Going to the locker room and trying to figure it out, rewrite whatever we did wrong, and going through that put us in this position.

“Now I feel like we are, like you said, one of the best teams in the league, because adversity built this. We all looked each other in the face and said, this is the second play-in game, this is our last run. This is it. From there, man, I just felt like everybody just bought into that will. I feel like we’ve just been willing wins.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat & Boston Celtics Updates

Six different Heat players scored in double-figures as Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Kyle Lowry all scored 15 points apiece. It was a great all-around game for the Heat, who are riding high and feeding off of the energy that Butler brings every night.

Miami will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead back to South Beach when they tip off Friday night. They know that they will have to bring their A-game as the Celtics will do everything in their power to avoid an 0-2 deficit heading on the road for Games 3 and 4.

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