5 takeaways as Jimmy Butler, Heat take exception to outside noise and beat Celtics in Game 6

"It's those winning, willful plays."

Celtics Heat Game 6
Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler shoots against Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Here are the takeaways as Jimmy Butler and the Heat willed their way to a Game 7 at home by beating the Celtics 111-103 in Game 6 on Friday.

1. First and foremost: Stop counting Jimmy Butler out.

Seriously, it’s a bad idea. After Game 6, Butler told the ESPN broadcast — in a calm, collected voice — that he didn’t hear the narrative. He claimed he didn’t know that people had counted the Heat out and that the only people he listens to are people in the organization.

Butler is just different enough to make you wonder if he’s telling the truth, but of course, he isn’t. Everyone in the NBA hears everything, and Butler is no exception. When he started inexplicably burying 3-pointers, the Celtics had their first hint they were in trouble. He back-cut multiple defenders, and patiently wound his way into good shots in his comfort zone. He got to the free-throw line. Everyone talks about LeBron James’ Game 6 performance against the Celtics in 2012, but Butler actually exceeded James’ scoring with 47 points on Friday (James had 45).


“It’s those winning, willful plays,” Erik Spoelstra said. “Their defense did start to step up in that second half. We had a double-digit lead. You’re facing a defense like that, you’re not comfortable at all. You really have to execute with precision and do things with detail and purpose.”

“Jimmy Butler is a great competitor; he really is,” Spoelstra added. “You can mis-define him in a lot of different ways, but his competitive will is as high as anybody that has played this game. He put his fingerprints on this game.”

2. We should also add that the Draymond Green thing is real: The Heat were annoyed that the Warriors’ star declared their team dead in the water. On Thursday, after the Warriors beat the Mavericks and punched their ticket to the Finals, Green told the TNT crew that the Warriors would end up playing the Celtics. Longtime Heat big man Udonis Haslem told ESPN’s broadcasting crew to tell Green “Thank you” for his remarks.

Haslem expanded on his comments in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

“Draymond broke the code,” Haslem said. “You ain’t supposed to say some s*** like that. That’s disrespectful. He know better than that.”


“He let Shaq peer pressure him into saying some s*** he ain’t got no business saying,” Haslem added. “I didn’t sleep much after he said that. That was some bulls***.”

P.J. Tucker echoed Haslem’s sentiments.

“It’s funny. We laughed. I thought it was funny,” Tucker said. “Because he knows better than anybody we still got to play the game. We got to play.”

Tucker also gave some more thoughts to Haynes.

“I don’t know what part of the game is that,” Tucker told Haynes. “A player picking a team before they’re out. That’s crazy, bro.”

If the Heat really needed the extra motivation, that’s concerning. However, the Celtics might not be feeling particularly friendly toward Green given his quote history. After all, it seems pretty clear that Green knew exactly what he was doing, and he got exactly what he wanted: The Warriors might face the Heat and even if they don’t, the Celtics have to play another day.

3. The most costly stretch by a significant margin came with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Late in a tie game just waiting for someone to take control, Jaylen Brown drew a foul. Brown missed both of his free throws, however, and Butler went the length of the floor to score plus a foul. That five-point swing seemed to spark something for the Heat, who took over from that moment on.


Late in a close game, a five-point swing can be the deciding factor.

“They responded to every time we made a run, every time we got close, every time we went up,” Brown said. “They made key baskets and timely shots and things like that. It’s almost like in a game like this, and they got it going, can’t leave room for error, and we did, I did, we as a team did, and next game if we come out like that. We’ve got to be better. That’s what it came down to. They played an amazing game. They made crazy shots. But we’ve got to play great defense again and force them to make some of those shots again.”

4. One major bright spot for the Celtics: Derrick White continues to emerge as a consistent, productive contributor. On Friday, White had his biggest game with the Celtics to date — 22 points (his highest total in Boston) along with five assists. He even knocked down four of his seven 3-point attempts.

If White makes 3-pointers when the Jays are rolling along, the Celtics are essentially unguardable. Even when he doesn’t, he just doesn’t seem to make many mistakes. For a role player, there’s a whole lot to be said for that.

5. Celtics fans, remember: Take three deep breaths through your nose. The team isn’t panicking yet, and neither should you.

“Scale of 1 to 10? 10,” Jayson Tatum said when asked of his confidence level that the Celtics would win Game 7. “I mean, it shouldn’t be any less than that, right? You know, it’s the last game. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a 10 out of 10 in my confidence level and the group.


“It’s no secret. It’s Game 7, trip to the NBA Finals, a lot on the line. A couple of us have been in this situation before, so we know what’s at stake. We know how much this means to everybody.”

Game 7 tips off on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.


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