Jimmy Butler has been simply sensational in these playoffs and he has led the Miami Heat to their second Eastern Conference Finals in the last three seasons. Butler averaged 30.5 points per game in Round 1 against the Atlanta Hawks to go with 27.5 points per game in the Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers and he had an excellent start here against the Boston Celtics as well.
This vaunted Celtics defense had done a fabulous job on Kevin Durant and to a lesser extent on Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Butler proved to be a bit too much to handle in Game 1. The forward shot 12-19 from the field and 17-18 from the line on his way to 41 points as Miami won 118-107. At his post-game press conference, Butler was asked about the physicality of the series and if he wanted to set a tone with his aggressiveness.
"I like physicality, I wanna run into people and see who falls down first, who's gonna quit first, I think that's the style I like to play and so do they. I was 0 for 2 from 3 tonight, I wanna go 0 for 0 next game because I just want to keep banging into people"
It is pretty much par for the course for Butler who is known for his physical play and the Celtics need Marcus Smart and Al Horford back in the lineup if they are to stop him. He has arguably been the best player in these playoffs so far and if this Celtics defense can't put the breaks on him, then we aren't sure if anyone can. Butler also showered praise on PJ Tucker and said he is one of the biggest reasons why they're winning.
"I didn't know I would fall in love with a basketball player as much as I have with PJ."
"He never ever complains and he is one of the biggest reasons why we are winning because he does all the little things and it is easy to follow suit whenever you got somebody like that"
It is still way too early to write off the Celtics of course and we must keep in mind that they lost Game 1 to Milwaukee as well, before coming back and winning that series in 7. The key to any turnaround here is finding a way to slow down Butler, but he looks like a man on a mission so far,