Celtics Insider

Blakely: The Butler does it again for Heat in Game 2

Celtics Insider

Boston has been down this road before against a Jimmy Butler-led team before. 

It was three years ago when Butler had led Chicago to a 2-0 series lead over Boston, only for the Celtics to rally back and win four in a row to advance to the next round of play. 

But this Miami Heat isn’t that Chicago Bulls squad. 

They’re better. 

And the Jimmy Butler then is not the same player we see now. 

He’s better. 

And those resilient Celtics back then? 

It remains to be seen how much of a bounce-back in the Bubble this group has after letting yet another winnable playoff game against Miami get away from them with the end result this time being a 106-101 loss.

Report: C's 'screaming and arguing' in locker room after Game 2 meltdown

Games 3 and 4 will be Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. 

For Boston’s season to last any longer than that, they have to win at least one of those games to avoid a sweep, and both to make it a series. 

Like Game 1, the Miami Heat found themselves looking up at a double-digit Celtics lead, only to rally in the third quarter to take the lead and once again, make all the tough plays when it really mattered in the fourth. 

And leading that charge was Butler, whose impact - more so than his numbers - spoke volumes about his impact on what matters most to both teams at this stage of the season - winning games.

 

“We like to make it hard on ourselves,” Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the win. “We like being the comeback kids.”

 The Celtics don’t have a choice if they want to make this a competitive series. 

TURNING POINT: Trailing the Miami Heat 104-101 with less than a minute to play, Boston’s Jaylen Brown raised up for a potential game-tying 3-pointer that was off the mark. Miami’s Bam Adebayo grabbed the rebound and was soon fouled. That would be as close as Boston would get for the remainder of the game. 

STARS

Jimmy Butler: This was yet another complete performance by Jimmy Butler who has shown himself to be the ultimate difference-maker in this playoff series thus far. Butler had 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists along with four steals that don’t do justice to the impact of his play on the game’s final outcome.

Goran Dragic: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo get a lot of praise for their play, but Dragic’s playmaking and timely scoring has been one of the below-the-radar keys to Miami’s success against Boston thus far. Dragic turned in another strong performance with a game-high 25 points to go with five assists.

Jayson Tatum: Tatum was filling up the stat sheet once again, but not really putting his imprint on the game in one particular area. Tatum had another strong night overall, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists. 

STUDS

Bam Adebayo: The Celtics had no answer for Bam Adebayo at either end of the floor. Offensively, Adebayo had his way with a slew of above-the-rim flushes out of pick and rolls. And defensively, his presence around the basket was a clear and undeniable deterrent to Boston’s efforts to score at point-blank range.

Kemba Walker: The five-time All-Star delivered one of his better games in the postseason, ending the concerns some had about whether his struggles were health-related. Walker was vintage Walker as he tallied a team-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists. 

Duncan Robinson: Foul trouble in Game 1 made him a non-factor, but the sharpshooting Robinson bounced back with 18 points in Game 2, all of which came from 3-point range. 

DUDS

Brad Stevens: it’s always on the players to execute the game plan, but it seems no matter what Stevens is imploring his players to do, it’s just not working. Miami’s zone defense has flummoxed the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 with Stevens unable to come up with anything to combat his team’s greatest weakness. Just like the Celtics players have to do their jobs better, the same holds true for Brad Stevens and his coaching staff. 

Celtics’ Ball protection: The Celtics have been among the better teams in the NBA this season and in the playoffs, at minimizing their turnovers. But none of that matter in Game 2 as the Miami Heat turned up its pressure defense and the Celtics more times than not, just wilted under the pressure with the end result being 20 turnovers by Boston that led to 26 Miami Heat points.