Jimmy Butler scored only 14 points in the Miami Heat’s 110-97 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, and the five-time All-NBA member is trying to help his team avoid squandering a 3-0 series lead.
The Celtics cut their series deficit to 3-2 on Thursday night. “The last two games are not who we are,” Butler said. “It just happened to be that way. We stopped playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make. But that’s easily correctable.”
Per a few NBA betting sites, the Miami Heat now have third-shortest odds to win the championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Denver Nuggets and Celtics.
“You just have to come out and play harder from the jump,” Jimmy Butler added. “Like I always say, ‘It’s going to be all smiles,’ and we are going to keep it very, very, very consistent, knowing that we are going to win next game.”
In addition to scoring a playoff-low 14 points in Game 5, Butler amassed five rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 34 minutes of action. The six-time All-Star finished 5-of-10 (50%) shooting from the floor and missed both 3-point attempts. Miami never led.
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler believes his team can close out the 2023 ECF at home in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics
Boston outscored the Heat 35-20 in the opening quarter. Butler scored just 16 points in Game 3 as well. Game 6 is Saturday at Kaseya Center in Miami, where the Heat will try to become the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals in the current format, dating back to 1984.
“We’ve just got to play better,” Jimmy Butler mentioned. “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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the Celtics improved to 5-5 at home this postseason. Boston’s +51 margin in points from starters was the team’s third largest in the playoffs since starts were tracked in 1970-71.
The Celtics are 4-0 in a single postseason when facing elimination for the first time since winning five straight in 1981-82.
Additionally, the C’s had four 20-point scorers in Game 5, whereas the Heat had zero. It was the third time this postseason Jimmy Butler was held to under 20 points.
Sportsbooks show the Heat as 5.5-point underdogs at home ahead of Game 6 this Saturday. Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, Boston has a 70.8% chance of tying the series.
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Source: Basketball Insider