Jimmy Butler after Heat’s Game 5 loss: We can and we will win this series
Miami star Jimmy Butler remains confident that the Heat will win the NBA Eastern Conference Finals despite the Boston Celtics closing in 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Butler struggled to get going in the 110-97 Game 5 loss, scoring eight points in the first half and finishing with 14–his lowest-scoring game of the playoffs. He sat out most of the fourth quarter..
“We’ve just got to play better,” Butler said. “Start the game off better, on the starters, make it more difficult for them.
“They are in a rhythm since the beginning of the game,” Butler added. “But we are always going to stay positive, knowing that we can and we will win this series. We’ll just have to close it out at home.”
Duncan Robinson led the Heat, who led 3-0 in the series before the Celtics’ back-to-back blowouts, with 18 points off the bench. Bam Adebayo scored 16 points but coughed up six turnovers.
Kyle Lowry starting at point guard after Gabe Vincent was ruled out with a sprained ankle, scored five points with four turnovers
Butler said the Heat allowed their shooting struggles to affect their defensive intensity.
“But that’s easily correctable,” he said. “You just have to come out and play harder from the jump.”
The Heat, who won the NBA title in 2006, 2012 and 2013, still only need one more win to reach a seventh NBA Finals.
The Celtics, whose 17 NBA titles are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in history, last won it all in 2008 and came up short in last season’s championship series against the Golden State Warriors.
They are to making NBA history. No team has battled back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
The winners of the series will play the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets, who swept the Lakers in four games to reach the NBA Finals for the first time.
Derrick White, who scored 24 points to fuel the Celtics breakaway, said they expect a formidable challenge in Miami on Saturday.
“The crowd is going to be in it. It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “It’s going to take 48 minutes of battling, scratching, clawing, and we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was unconcerned that two big defeats had demoralized his team.
“Who cares about mood?” Spoelstra said. “We have a gnarly group. It’s a competitive series. You always expect things to be challenging in the conference finals.”