Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics had front row tickets to another scintillating playoff display from Jimmy Butler in the Miami Heat’s Game 1 victory over Boston. Brown was Butler’s primary defender and had all sorts of trouble containing “Playoff Jimmy.”
After a relatively quiet first half, Miami’s do-it-all forward exploded for 17 third-quarter points, which practically cost the Celtics the game. Butler’s eruption was a big part of the 22-2 run that gave the Heat a lead they would never relinquish.
After the game, Jaylen Brown rued the missed opportunities and recognized the need to keep Jimmy Butler from getting into his groove (via Keith Smith):
“He’s very comfortable right now. We need to do a better job of breaking that rhythm that he’s in.”
When he’s not making shots (12-19), Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics couldn’t keep Jimmy Butler off the free-throw line. The six-time All-Star had a steady diet of free throws making 17 of 18 from the 4.5-meter line. His free throws were crucial in keeping Boston from running away in the first half and holding them at bay in the second.
Jimmy Butler’s frequent trips to the free-throw line gave him the kind of rhythm that’s difficult to capture in a defensive slugfest. The 32-year-old forward is a bruising operator who relishes contact. If Jaylen Brown and the Celtics can adjust to this, they may contain him far better for the rest of the series.
Jaylen Brown himself had 10 shots from the free-throw line but made only 6 of them. If he can’t get as many attempts as Butler, the Boston Celtics forward could lessen the free-throw disparity by improving his efficiency.
Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics were undone by too many turnovers
Part of what gave Jimmy Butler more rhythm was the Boston Celtics’ erratic performance, particularly in the third quarter. When the Miami Heat started their rally early in the second half, Boston tried to force the issue and coughed up the ball carelessly.
Boston’s errors only pushed the momentum firmly on the side of the Miami Heat to a point where they seemingly can’t miss any shot.
Jayson Tatum seemed to lose trust in his teammates when the Heat started piling up the pressure. He had 7 of the Celtics’ 16 turnovers while no one else had more than two. As Boston’s best player and the fulcrum of the offense, those miscues were killers.
Here’s what “JT” had to say about his error-prone ways (via Keith Smith):
“I had too many turnovers. I’ve got to play better.”
Not having Marcus Smart in the lineup was part of the reason for the turnovers, but they shouldn’t be that careless, especially when Miami makes a run. The Boston Celtics know what to do to bounce back, they just have to execute it to have a chance to win Game 2.