Somehow, someway, the Heat have managed to beat the Celtics in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals — in Boston.
Remember, we’re talking about a team that barely made the playoffs, scratching and clawing and barely surviving in the play-in tournament before stumbling away with the East’s No. 8 and final seed.
But despite trailing by double digits (again), the Heat used a 24-9 run to close Game 2 and stun the Celtics by a 111-105 count.
Games 3 and 4 are in Miami.
In a word … wow.
“We showed that grit and perseverance to be able to hang in there and make some plays,” coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters.
And it was again the Jimmy Butler show, as he led the way with 27 points, eight rebounds and one brush-off of a confrontation with Celtics forward Grant Williams.
But as Butler suggested afterward, ticking him off probably wasn’t the best of ideas.
Big man Bam Adebayo was equally impactful, nearing a triple-double with 22 points, a whopping 17 rebounds and nine assists.
“Jimmy and Bam just really anchored us offensively,” Spoelstra said. “It’s great when your two best players can lead you, in a place where the ball can go and everybody else is just playing off of those guys.
“Both of them at some point basically guarded everybody on the floor, basically at some point with the switches. They are going to burn a lot of calories on that end, but they have to shoulder massive responsibilities for us on the other end.”
Meanwhile, Bostons stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for exactly zero field goals in the fourth quarter.
That’s what is known as a team-wide defensive effort by the Heat when it meant the most.
The eighth-seeded Heat? Up 2-0 in the conference finals? When each of the first two games were on the road?
Maybe all it took was for Butler to get aggravated.
“I knew that was going to be good for us,” Heat forward Caleb Martin, who scored 25 points, told reporters the Butler-Williams tiff. “We’ll take mad Jimmy at any time.”
The Miami Heat have now won 11 of the last 13 games that Jimmy Butler has played.
They come home up 2-0, 2 games from their 7th finals appearance since 2006.
They’re an 8 seed. @5ReasonsSports
— Ethan J. Skolnick, 5 Reasons Sports (@EthanJSkolnick) May 20, 2023
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