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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Articles tagged: Miami Heat

Erik Spoelstra not happy about Payton Pritchard-Jimmy Butler play

Payton Pritchard trips Jimmy Butler

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard tripped Jimmy Butler during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on a play that some felt was dirty. While Erik Spoelstra stopped short of placing that label on it, the Miami Heat coach clearly did not approve.

Butler left Game 3 on Saturday night with a knee injury late in the first half and did not return. Prior to his exit, he took an awkward fall after Pritchard grabbed him by the knee area and tripped him. You can see the video here.

Spoelstra was asked about the play ahead of Game 4 on Monday. He said “it was not a basketball play” and that he is unsure why Pritchard was not called for a flagrant foul. Spoelstra also said it is unclear if the trip contributed to Butler’s knee soreness.

Some people have compared the Pritchard grab to the controversial play that resulted in Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant getting hurt earlier in the postseason.

Butler is expected to play in Game 4.

Key Heat player ruled out for Game 4 against Celtics

Erik Spoelstra looks on

Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are banged up heading into Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics on Monday night, and at least one of their better players is not going to suit up.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters ahead of Game 4 that Tyler Herro has been ruled out.

Herro has a quad injury and was seen with a wrap on his leg at times during Game 3 on Saturday night. He shot just 4-of-15 from the field in Miami’s 109-103 win.

Jimmy Butler is also still listed on the injury report, as he is dealing with right knee soreness. He may have aggravated the injury on a play where a Celtics player grabbed his leg during Game 3. Spoelstra said Butler will warm up before Monday night’s game with the intention of playing.

Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and PJ Tucker are also listed on the injury report but expected to play in Game 4.

Erik Spoelstra hits back at 1 particular criticism of Heat in Celtics series

Erik Spoelstra looks on

Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have received one criticism during the Eastern Conference Finals that head coach Erik Spoelstra thinks should air on Comedy Central instead of on ESPN.

Addressing reporters Sunday, Spoelstra fired back at the media narrative that has tried to paint the Boston Celtics as the better team since they have won ten out of 12 quarters played so far as opposed to just two for the Heat.

“I get confused by all that stuff,” said a chuckling Spoelstra, according to Heat reporter Will Manso. “End of the game when the clock turns zero, did we win or did we lose? That’s what we focus on.”

Spoelstra is spot-on here. Basketball has always been a four-quarter sport, and they don’t hand out championship rings for winning the second quarter. If a team wins just one quarter by 20 or more points (as Miami has already done multiple times this series), they have less work to do for the rest of the game and can afford to lose every quarter from there on out. The final score is all that ultimately matters, and the Heat have had a higher final score than the Celtics in two out of three games thus far.

Miami’s fortunes may or may not swing over the remainder of the series (which is guaranteed to go at least two more games). But holding a 2-1 lead despite a troublesome list of injuries and a national media that seems to give them little to no credit has to feel pretty good for Spoelstra’s Heat right now.

Heat share troubling injury update ahead of Game 4

Jimmy Butler points on the court

Jan 22, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals with a road win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, but they came away fairly banged up. They now have numerous injury questions heading into Game 4.

On Sunday, the Heat listed six key contributors as questionable for Game 4. Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro are among them, which is not a big surprise.

Butler left Game 3 with knee soreness in the first half. He did not play at all in the second half. He has been dealing with a knee injury throughout the postseason, and he may have aggravated it on a play where a Celtics player grabbed his knee.

Herro shot just 4-of-15 in Miami’s win on Saturday. He has a quad injury and was seen with a wrap on his leg at times during the game.

The injury to Butler does not sound all that serious. Still, it is always a concern when that many players are listed as questionable heading into a big playoff game.

Did Payton Pritchard injure Jimmy Butler’s knee with dirty play?

Payton Pritchard trips Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler left Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night with a knee injury late in the first half and did not return. The Miami Heat star has been dealing with soreness in his right knee throughout the postseason, but many are wondering if a dirty play from a Boston Celtics player contributed to the latest issue.

Celtics reserve guard Payton Pritchard was called for a foul on Butler about halfway through the second quarter. Pritchard lost his balance while getting back on defense and grabbed Butler by the right knee as Butler was making a move toward the basket. Butler’s knee appeared to hit off the floor fairly hard.

You can see the play below:

The trip seemed intentional. That does not mean Pritchard intended to hurt Butler, but he almost certainly grabbed Butler’s leg on purpose. We also do not know if that contributed to the soreness Butler experienced. If nothing else, the play was dangerous.

The Heat said very little about Butler’s knee injury after their 109-103 win in Game 3. Barring a setback, it does not sound like he will miss any games going forward.

Some people have compared the Pritchard grab to the controversial play that resulted in Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant getting hurt earlier in the postseason. You can see that video here.

Jaylen Brown whines about officiating following Celtics’ Game 3 loss

Jaylen Brown shooting the ball

The Boston Celtics nearly pulled off a massive comeback against the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, but they were unable to make enough stops down the stretch. Jaylen Brown seemed to think the officials were also to blame.

Brown led all scorers with 40 points in Boston’s 109-103 loss. He also committed a game-high seven turnovers. Brown admitted after the game that he did a “s— job” of taking care of the basketball and said he needs to be “stronger” when he gets into the paint. He snuck in some criticism of the officiating crew as well.

“They let a lot of stuff go tonight. Especially when I feel like I drive and I get to the basket, I feel like it’s two hands on me all the time,” Brown said, per Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “I never get those hand-checking calls but I don’t make excuses. We get better. I did a s–t job taking care of the basketball today. I’ve got to do better.”

The Heat were far more physical than the Celtics on Saturday night. Miami led by as many as 26 points before Boston began chipping away. Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after the game that his team “wilted under pressure.” He also criticized his players for doing exactly what Brown did in his postgame press conference.

The Celtics have a tendency to get distracted when calls don’t go their way. Udoka obviously is trying to get them to focus more in those situations.

Game 4 is in Boston on Monday night. The Heat have a 2-1 series lead.

Al Horford’s sister throws shade at Heat

Al Horford's sister Anna take a selfie

Al Horford’s sister Anna is known for sharing controversial opinions on social media, and she is living up to that reputation during the Eastern Conference Finals.

Anna made a bold statement on Twitter during the Boston Celtics’ blowout win over the Miami Heat in Game 2. She essentially said Jimmy Butler is Miami’s whole team.

Obviously, the Heat are more than just one star player. They would not have gotten this deep into the postseason without a complete roster. That said, they will certainly need Butler at his best if they want to beat the Celtics.

Boston dominated the first half in Game 1 on Tuesday night. It wasn’t until Butler turned it on that the Heat came back and eventually cruised to a comfortable win. In Game 2 on Thursday, Butler got off to a slow start. That, in part, allowed the Celtics to jump out to a huge lead and dominate from start to finish.

Anna has already made some impressive observations this postseason. She could end up being right about Butler, too. If the Celtics can limit him the way they did in Game 2, they should have no problem taking care of Miami. If they allow him to score at will the way he did in the second half of Game 1, they will have serious problems.

Celtics get mixed injury news ahead of Game 2 against Heat

Al Horford during warmups

Jan 28, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics were missing two starters in their Game 1 Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday, and they will likely be getting only one of them back in Game 2.

Marcus Smart missed Game 1 with a foot injury. Al Horford was ruled out after being placed in COVID protocol. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Horford is not expected to be cleared in time for Game 2 on Thursday night. Smart is hoping to return, but he needs to see how his foot responds to treatment.

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said the team found out Horford tested positive for COVID-19 just hours before Game 1. Robert Williams, who has battled knee troubles throughout the postseason, scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 28 minutes. He helped fill the Horford void, but Smart’s absence caused bigger issues.

The Heat clearly took advantage of Smart being out, and it paid off down the stretch en route to their 118-107 victory.

Had the Celtics won Game 1, they probably would play it safe with Smart. We would be surprised if he does not suit up given the circumstances.

Heat had clear game plan with Marcus Smart out

Marcus Smart stares ahead

Aug 4, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) warms up before the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Visa Athletic Center in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, and they did so by taking full advantage of a key player being out.

Marcus Smart did not play in the game due to a foot injury. Smart is an excellent defender, and the Celtics missed him. As Bob Voulgaris noted, the Heat made a big adjustment in the second half and ran 10 pick-and-roll plays where reserve guard Payton Pritchard was the screen defender. The plan worked to perfection.

Boston led 62-54 at the half, but the Heat pulled away late in the third quarter en route to a comfortable 118-107 victory. Both Smart and Al Horford (COVID protocols) missed the game, but Smart’s absence clearly hurt more.

Duncan Robinson’s camp has apparent message for Heat amid playoff benching

Duncan Robinson in his Heat uniform

Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) reacts before being fouled by Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Duncan Robinson’s camp seems to be trying to put the heat on Miami.

Glushon Sports Management, the agency representing the Heat swingman Robinson, delivered an apparent message for the team in a tweet Monday. They hyped up Robinson’s seven three-pointer performance 19 months ago during the 2020 NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble.

19 months is not exactly a noteworthy milestone, so it seems like the timing here is not a coincidence but rather an attempt to get Robinson on the court. Robinson has been benched for virtually all of Miami’s second-round series against Philadelphia, playing just one total minute (in garbage time).

On one hand, the Heat signed Robinson, one of the very best three-point shooters in the league, to a $90 million contract and are not playing him at all in a series where their outside shooting has been horrendous. In Sunday’s narrow Game 4 loss to Philly, Miami shot a collective 7-for-35 (20 percent) from deep on looks that were mostly uncontested.

On the other hand however, Robinson is a poor defender and would be hunted mercilessly on switches by both James Harden and Tyrese Maxey if he was playing. By instead relying on Max Strus, who has been starting this series, Miami gets a player who (usually) shoots the triple almost as well as Robinson does and is a much better defender. Ex-All-Star Victor Oladipo has also been a fairly consistent option off the bench.

Role players generally tend to shoot better at home, so if the Heat’s three-point shooting normalizes (especially with two of the last three games of the series taking place in Miami), Robinson may still ultimately not be needed. Benching Robinson gives the 76ers less potential fodder for jokes as well.