The Miami Heat defeated Boston in Game 1 of the East Finals 118-107. Jimmy Butler is in alpha mode and the Celtics can take a lot out of this game.
That was a statement Jimmy Butler made in the second half of Game 1 against the Boston Celtics. The striker scored 27 out of 41 points after the change and also seemed to give a clear signal in the direction of Jayson Tatum, who was so often voted the best player in the series beforehand.
“I love the physical game and like to run into my opponents to see who falls first,” Butler said of his performance. “I want to know who gives up first.”
In Game 1, it was not Butler who fell in this cockfight, but Tatum, even though he started furiously with 21 points in the first half. After the break, however, Tatum had a bit to smile about. The Celtics star scored just one field goal, made 6 ball losses and was cheated by Butler twice in a short time in the third quarter. Butler smelled Tatum’s pass, both times it was basically a six for the 32-year-old.
It all happened right after the Celtics shouted to stop Heats running after the break. Instead, Miami extended the lead to +12, it was a 21-2 run by the Heat that brought back memories of Game 2 of the 2020 Conference Finals as Miami won the third quarter 37-17.
The Boston Celtics lack depth
Now you can let the phrase pig ring. Butler was ready for the task and Tatum (like the entire Celtics team) was relaxed in the third quarter. These are all valid points, but in this game you could quite clearly see who had two days more break and who had defeated the reigning Finals MVP on Sunday.
The Celtics handled the defeat accordingly calmly, only coach Ime Udoka spoke of a disappointment and meant primarily the third quarter, which the Celtics gave up with 14:39. Here the guests gave a possible surprise away, otherwise one could not have judged a victory in game one.
Not only did the Celtics have fewer breaks, they also had to do without important supporters in Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (Corona). Suddenly, Aaron Nesmith (3 partially spectacular blocks) saw minutes of rotation, and Payton Pritchard played 30 minutes. The guard did a good job, especially in the first half, after which it was Butler who largely played Pritchard off the field and in return did not do so because Udoka had no more alternatives on the bench.
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Jimmy Butler is chasing Payton Pritchard
To be clear, the available players who did not play in Boston were Malik Fitts, Luke Kornet, Juwan Morgan and of course G-League legend Nik Stauskas. So Pritchard struggled in the back end in his usual way, but his size disadvantage could not hide it.
The Heat ran ten pick’n’rolls in the fourth quarter, involving Pritchard, the 24-year-old was attacked seven times, resulting in 13 points. It certainly would not have happened with Smart, but it is still unclear when the reigning Defender of the Year can step in again.
So Butler had his mismatch, which he was able to use when Boston no longer just threw the ball away in the fourth quarter, forcing Miami to halftime offense. The Heat did better than expected here, but recorded only 25, 29 and 25 points in the other three quarters.
Boston won all other periods, but in the end, twelve minutes after the break, they were their downfall. These twelve minutes will hold on at first, but that does not change the fact that this series will probably remain close. Miami did its duty in Game 1, now it’s up to Boston to tackle the mentioned problem areas.
Heat vs. Celtics: More notes on the game
- It was not a good performance from Jaylen Brown, although the 24 points (7/17 FG) and 10 rebounds do not look so bad on the box. The attacker dribbled way too much, got stuck too often and also showed weaknesses on the free throw line (6/10 FT). If it continues, Miami has two of the top three players in this series in Butler and Bam Adebayo, a factor not to be underestimated.
- Speaking of Adebayo: what he cleared away in the third quarter was extremely strong. That Boston was only able to add 6 points in the second 24 minutes after 42 points in the zone was mainly due to The Big of the Heat. Brown may not be sleeping well tonight.
- We addressed it in the preview, Gabe Vincent is always good for a bang. The guard, who continues to replace Kyle Lowry in the starting five, hit three three-pointers, blocked three shots and finished the game with the second-best plus-minus (+23) behind Butler. The 25-year-old is also a clerk in the defense and therefore valuable against the Celtics, as Boston does not have THE elite ball driver and Vincent can take important seconds from the shot clock.
- What happened to Derrick White’s throw? It’s not like he’s ever been a good shooter, but 24 percent is very worrying. All too often, the 27-year-old even refuses to throw, which hurts in the Celtics offense. If Max Strus can also hit White from dribbling, it does not bode well for Boston.
- Victor Oladipo may steal the 2021 Trade Deadline when the Heat took the former All-Star to a second-round pick. The guard is another good option in defense and is always good for 20 points on a good day. This time it was only 5 (2/9 FG), but he also put a huge amount of pressure on Tatum and Brown defensively, which made them make mistakes.
NBA Playoffs – Heat vs. Celtics: The Series at a Glance (1-0)
|1||May 18||02.30||Miami heat||Boston Celtics||118: 107|
|2||May 20||02.30||Miami heat||Boston Celtics|
|3||May 22||02.30||Boston Celtics||Miami heat|
|4||May 24||02.30||Boston Celtics||Miami heat|
|5 *||May 26||02.30||Miami heat||Boston Celtics|
|6 *||May 28||02.30||Boston Celtics||Miami heat|
|7 *||30. May||02.30||Miami heat||Boston Celtics|