Observations and other notes of interest from Sunday night’s 100-96 NBA playoff loss to the Boston Celtics:
– Jimmy Butler is all that.
– He is.
– Win. Or lose.
– At moments of truth, when able to get the knee right, he was the best player in the Eastern Conference finals.
– By far.
– Which also, at times Sunday, spoke to the limitations of his supporting cast.
– At times, in fact, it was as if it was Dwyane Wade of the pre-Big Three era looking for a friend.
– Because while Bam Adebayo was alongside, Kyle Lowry wasn’t looking anything like Kyle Lowry.
– And Tyler Herro simply didn’t have it in this return.
– As brave as the effort was to return.
– So even after getting Lowry last summer, the Heat might have to get Butler more.
– Because this is asking a lot.
– A lot.
– And, no, for all Joel Embiid might want, that’s not happening.
– Even with all the magic previously worked by Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg.
– Butler deserves more alongside .
– Because Jayson Tatum has more alongside.
– As does Jaylen Brown.
– As does Marcus Smart.
– At minimum, the Heat need an Al Horford-type move.
– Or a Derrick White type move.
– As for Butler, he gave his all to the end.
– Worth every one of those Micky Arison dollars.
— Even with that questionable late 3-point attempt, when such an attempt wasn’t needed.
– Both teams opened with their lineups of preference, having moved beyond injuries.
– For the Heat, that was Adebayo, P.J. Tucker, Butler, Max Strus and Lowry.
– For the Celtics, it was Robert Williams III, Horford, Tatum, Brown and Smart.
– With the start, Tucker moved past Carmelo Anthony for 98th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– With the start, Butler and Lowry passed Kevin Johnson for 76th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Lowry was called for his second foul with 8:59 left in the opening period.
– He remained in until replaced by Gabe Vincent with 6:42 left in the first quarter, with the Heat down 17-7.
– Victor Oladipo, ahead of then again-available Herro, followed as the second reserve off the bench.
– Vincent twice in the first half made 3-pointers that were waved off, one on a Butler out-of-bounds call, one on a 24-second violation.
– Strus had one rescinded in the third when it was ruled he was out of bounds.
– In keeping the rotation tight, with Herro only going 6:43, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra basically limited his bench to Vincent and Oladipo.
– So no Caleb Martin.
– No Duncan Robinson.
– No Dewayne Dedmon.
– Vincent later limped off early in the fourth quarter.
– One of Spoelstra’s best moves came on a challenge early in the fourth quarter that turned what would have been Lowry fourth foul into a fourth foul on the Celtics’ Brown.
– Butler’s first point moved him past Horace Grant for 72nd on the NBA all-time playoff list.
His third moved him past Dwight Howard for 71st. His fourth moved him past Oscar Robertson and Maurice Cheeks for 69th. His eighth moved him past Carmelo Anthony for 68th. His 10th moved him past Chet Walker for 67th.
– Butler later passed Alonzo Mourning for fourth on the Heat’s all-time playoff scoring list.
– Butler’s first shot attempt moved him past George Mikan for 90th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s third free-throw attempt moved him past Adrian Dantley for 56th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s first 3-pointer tied Sam Cassell and Kenny Smith for 77th on the NBA all-time playoff list.
– Butler’s fifth rebound moved him past P.J. Brown for eighth on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Adebayo’s first block tied Hassan Whiteside for ninth on the Heat all-time playoff list.
– Spoelstra spoke pregame of seven games of trying to contain the Celtics’ Tatum and Brown.
– “It’s very complex,” he said. “Obviously, they both put a lot of pressure on your defense and in different ways. You know, they both can get into the paint at the rim. They both can stretch you out past the three.”
– He added, “It’s really more than schematics. It’s about you have to commit to doing tough things against great players, and we’ve developed a lot of those habits during the year. Sometimes they are going to get you. Hopefully you can make it tough on them more often.”
– Unlike the Heat, the Celtics bypassed a mandatory game-day shootaround Sunday.
– Asked why, Celtics coach Ime Udoka said, “Fresh legs, energy, juice. The series is what it is. There’s no surprises from either side, and we want energy. It was optional, but a lot of the guys going and get shots, anyways. Get out of the monotony of doing the same thing and keeping our legs and fresh energy.”
– Of the NBA admitting errors on two fouls by Celtics guard Derrick White in Game 6, Udoka said, “We felt those weren’t fouls during the game. We weren’t trying to foul, obviously, up three with a minute and change left.”
Source: Berkshire mont