There’s no way around it once you reach a certain age. The real sign that I’m a Tito is how I treat my time. How I spend my days is very important to me. I often go back to tried-and-true ways to have fun. I learned that I couldn’t try out as many new things as I used to. Sure, a good show like Succession will sometimes get past my grumpy ways. But I usually go back to old favorites like The Office, FRIENDS, John Mayer, and NBA games.
But this year’s playoffs feel brand new like I’m just learning about them now. LeBron James, Damian Lillard, and Kawhi Leonard, who were always good, are not there. This year, the next generation of NBA superstars are stepping into the limelight. Don’t get me wrong, Ja Morant is wonderful; Luka Doncic is a waste of time. Both Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker were born to kill, and all of them are fun to watch.
So, I have to use my search bar to figure out what the references in this year’s playoffs mean. I had to look up “griddy+slang,” read up on “Whoop That Trick,” and even read TMZ to figure out what the Kardashian “curse” meant for Booker.
It’s tiring, man
Because of this, I find myself liking Jimmy Butler more and more. At 32 years old, Butler is already the most experienced player in the playoffs this year, and his game shows it for sure.
Butler likes to go back to things that are easy for him. He wants to play in the middle, and Butler doesn’t give in to the pressure of the other players around him to shoot 3-pointers. Instead, he stays strong and plays to his strengths.
So far in the playoffs, this has happened a lot. Butler will set a screen for the player who has the ball to make them switch. Once he knows who he’s going against, wear down the defense until he gets his midrange shot. Even though Butler only shot two 3-pointers in Game 1, and still scored 41 points. In Game 2, he scored 29 points, but he only made one of the three outside shots he tried. When Butler is doing so well, why should they try something new? He has averaged 35 points in two games against the Boston Celtics and shot 62 percent of the time. I say let Jimmy keep getting his buckets. Don’t bother him with your nonsense about pace and space.
The Miami Heat are lucky to have Butler because he is a veteran (Tito) and a leader, and he is also very competitive.
Some people say that Butler fits in well with the Heat’s way of doing things. That is correct. Butler is a player who works hard and doesn’t waste time. That is the kind of dog that Pat Riley likes on his teams. He’s the leader of the Heat and sets the mood. What’s great about the way they lead is that does more than talk. He lets his game speak for itself.
Butler didn’t give up when his team was behind by a lot in Game 1 against the Celtics. He was unable. If he did that, the rest of his team would do the same thing. In the third quarter, instead of giving them a pep talk to get them going, Butler got to work and showed the team what they needed to do. That right there is significant energy. Get me my tools and get out of my way.
The will to win is something that can’t be taken away by getting older. Butler is full of that fire. He doesn’t just want to win the game; he wants to beat the person on the other side of the table more. It’s like Butler has a list of players who want to hit and win. The best part is that he won’t talk trash while the game is on. He’ll do it quietly, Scoring on his guy and standing up for his job, and be careful once it’s done. He will tell everyone that you lost to him.
Butler is a living example of how “competitive” can’t be spelled without “petty.”
Butler reminds me so much of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett that it makes me feel like I’m at home when I watch him. Like him, those guys are old school. Kobe lived in the middle of the court, Timmy led his team quietly, and KG always ensured everyone knew he was winning.
Questions before Game 3 of the Heat-Celtics series
When a series has three games, the time between Games 2 and 3 is usually when both teams change the most. As the series moves to a new place, the teams also move to a new part of the series. With information from the first two games, Game 3 shows how good the coaching is.
Even though the Heat-Celtics series is tied at 1-1, there is much more pressure on Miami. Even though the next two games are in front of the always-tough Boston crowd, don’t worry about it. The Celtics ate their lunch in Game 2 in the same way Boston won big games in these playoffs: by grinding them out.
Erik Spoelstra is in the spotlight because he has to find answers to Ime Udoka’s overwhelming green swarm. Let’s look at what Spoelstra and the Heat need to figure out before Game 3.
How much Jimmy is way too much Jimmy?
Jimmy Butler has had a tough start to this series. After scoring 41 points on 19 field goals and 18 free throws, Butler led the Miami offense with 29 points in Game 2. He has been used more than 30% of the time in the playoffs, and he doesn’t seem ready to slow down.
It looks like the Celtics have no trouble with this. In Game 1, Boston was missing Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Defensive Player of the Year Al Horford. That made it harder for the Celtics to stop Jimmy Buckets. But when they came back in Game 2, they caused trouble right away. With Smart instead of Payton Pritchard, Butler had much less room to move and looked messier. John Schumann’s numbers show that Butler only scored nine points in 35 possessions when Smart was his primary defender.
Butler isn’t the kind of star who only cares about himself. He mostly takes over to get the offense going and give his teammates more looks. The rest of the Heat haven’t given me much reason to trust them on that end.
In Game 2, Tyler Herro could only score 11 points, and Max Strus, who saved the team in Game 1, only scored six. The Celtics focused on stopping Miami’s outside shooters and didn’t give them the open looks they had in Game 1.
The Heat should give Bam Adebayo more touches as a quick fix. This postseason, Adebayo has been a beast on defense. The Heat might need him to do more offensively when they play the Celtics.
Spoelstra has actions and sets where Adebayo starts their offense, so this isn’t a huge stretch for him. He won’t have an easy time going one-on-one, but if Adebayo takes some of the pressure off Butler and Herro to make plays, it could give Miami more chances. He could also take advantage of his mistakes as a screener in pick-and-roll situations.
Figuring out switching
When it comes to defense, the Celtics have been terrifying their opponents with their active switching defense, which shows the weakest options of the other team. In Game 2, their starting five of Smart, Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Robert Williams held the Heat back.
They told PJ Tucker and Victor Oladipo to make plays, but they still got back on them, so they didn’t have too many open shots. They changed as many Jimmy Butler roles as they could, but they put so many other people in front of Butler that it didn’t matter.
In Game 2, the Heat couldn’t breathe because of the switching, quick trapping, and triple-teaming. Boston has done an excellent job in these playoffs of stopping superstars who have been around for a long time, like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s never been about giving these guys bad nights from a statistical point of view. The Celtics have been good at making them make bad decisions. The little things add up and give them a chance to strike.
In Game 2, Butler did what they wanted him to do. Spoelstra could make this change by getting his All-Star to play more off-ball to mess up Boston’s switching. In Games 1 and 2, Butler ate up his opponents, who were not as good. In the long run, it might be better for the Heat to go after Boston’s bigs to get the Celtics’ prominent, scary defenders out of the way.
Before Game 3, this is the problem Spoelstra faces. Even though the final scores don’t show it, this has been one of the most entertaining series because the coaches have handled the games. Does Spo have another masterclass in him, or did Udoka stump him?
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