BOSTON — After losing for the first time in the 2023 Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night, Miami Heat stars Jimmy Butler he was asked if he was worried Boston Celtics had taken power.
“No,” said Butler, disapprovingly. “If anything, it will motivate us to know that we have to play with more energy. We have to play with our backs against the wall.”
On the face of it, this seems like an odd answer: How can a losing team feel like they’re doing well? How can a team that is 3-1 in the series against the wall?
Maybe Butler, a smart veteran who enjoys playing mind games, has this right. If so, he may be the only one.
The tie between the Celtics and the Heat, a series in which the No. 8 seed led 3-0, has been the end of a bizzarro meeting.
What should be true is not true.
What makes sense suddenly doesn’t.
And just when you think you’ve figured things out, you’re shaken in the head.
When the Celtics won Tuesday’s Game 4 116-99, it was the fourth time in the last two races that he has won a road game while being on the verge of elimination. This is a remarkable achievement that speaks of courage and resilience under adversity. It’s very unusual.
For example, Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron Jameswho has played more games than anyone in NBA history, has four victories in his 20 years – two of which occurred in the magical 2016 NBA Finals.
“I think any time you’re in a situation, it forces you to be more conscious and your perspective,” said Joe Mazzulla, who coached the Celtics’ two-game winning streak (Game 6). Philadelphia 76ers in the second round and tilt Tuesday in Miami). “It’s always been there, and I think the way we understand it the last week we’ve had it, so it’s tough these times.”
Oh, it’s fragile. The same team that survived two do-or-die games against the Sixers in the conference semifinals immediately blew two home runs in Games 1 and 2 against the Heat.
The Celtics are 10-11 at home over the last two seasons, marking the team’s longest home loss in two seasons. It’s impossible to win enough playoff games to even play 21 home games over two years and be under .500 at home at the same time — unless you’re this Celtics team, who often look bad when they’re good and good. it must be cooked.
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Home teams that lost Game 1 of the series won the second game 17 times in a row – until Boston fell to Miami in Game 2 of the series.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was 13-0 in his career while leading his team’s close streak at home in Miami — until the Celtics beat him in Game 7 of last year’s conference finals and in Game 4 this season. Again, plans to celebrate the trophies were cancelled.
“You know,” Spoelstra said Tuesday night, “sometimes things don’t go as planned.”
Nothing about these stories has gone as planned.
The Heat have eight wins this postseason as the Las Vegas underdog – the second most in postseason history. Predictions for the future of computers were equally well known. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave the Celtics a 95% chance of winning the series. Even after the Celtics fell 2-0, they remained the computer’s favorite. That changed before Game 4 – only to see the Celtics win decisively.
“As we know and everyone else knows, we don’t often take things easy around here,” the Heat forward said. Caleb Martin, in short. His team lost at home on Atlanta Hawks in the first game in April before clinching the final spot in the East playoffs with a rally in the final three minutes of a do-or-die game against Chicago Bulls.
The Celtics sometimes play more comfortably when they are behind than when they are ahead. This has happened repeatedly in the last two years. In Tuesday’s Game 4, they were down nine points in the third quarter and came back with an 18-0 run to save their season.
After failing to score in the fourth quarter of the first three games, the Celtics star Jayson Tatum he sank five in the fourth quarter of Game 4 to stop the Heat.
Just two weeks ago, Tatum was having a 1-14 shooting night and was on the brink of an embarrassing elimination — and he made a 3-pointer in the final five minutes to secure another improbable, season-saving layup. victory.
These actions may continue. The two groups that contain these players in these situations form one big Venn diagram of unusual situations.
So, it has to be asked, what about the 150-0 all-time record of teams in the series when they get up 3-0?
“We’ll be fine,” Butler said. “Let’s get back to doing what we’ve been doing to get to this point: Keep trusting each other, knowing that we’re going to win, and we’re going to win.”