The Miami Heat knew they were going to be punched in the mouth early in Game 4 and were confident of weathering the Boston Celtics’ fury. That confidence slowly eroded as Boston smacked them repeatedly and often in the first 24 minutes, while Miami couldn’t do anything about it.
Boston threw the kitchen sink at Miami right off the bat, which discombobulated Erik Spoelstra’s starting unit. The first quarter ended with the Celtics holding a huge 29-11 edge and it felt like the lead could have been even more.
All-Star Jimmy Butler weighed in on what they did wrong that gave the Boston Celtics too much momentum:
“I think we settled for way too many mid-range jumpshots, myself included. …We have to be a more forceful team, not shy away from contact and play inside-out.”
The Miami Heat were missing Tyler Herro due to a groin injury. Without the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Jimmy Butler’s space to operate got tighter. The Boston Celtics packed the lane, preventing Butler and Adebayo from doing damage inside.
Kyle Lowry has never been the fastest point guard in the league but he looked slower than usual coming off a hamstring injury. Jimmy Butler seemed to favor one knee, which was likely the reason why he was inefficient and hesitant. Without the ability to get by defenders for points or to kick out to open shooters, Miami looked awfully stagnant in their half-court offense.
The Heat desperately wanted to force the issue inside, but with Al Horford and Rob Williams patrolling the interior, Miami’s rim attacks didn’t make a dent. Horford finished with a game-high four blocks while Williams had two. Williams also altered numerous shots and sometimes discouraged Miami from going to the basket.
Jimmy Butler is not blaming injury for the Miami Heat’s horrific play against the Boston Celtics
The Miami Heat declared Jimmy Butler available shortly before Game 4 despite the All-Star’s questionable status before tip-off. “Jimmy Buckets” is suffering from knee inflammation, but would not make the injury an excuse.
The four-time All-NBA team selectee was almost unrecognizable against the Boston Celtics’ unrelenting defense. Butler finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds and an assist. He missed all but three of his 14 shots and looked out of sorts for most of the game.
The Boston Celtics' defense has caused superstars such as Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo to struggle badly, but it looks like Butler is forcing his injured knee. Miami Heat fans who have been zealously watching Jimmy Butler perform over the years can tell immediately that something’s wrong with the way he moved.
Miami got away with a win in Game 3 with Butler playing only 19 minutes. They may not win another one if their best player is compromised.