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5 Things We Learned From The Heat’s Loss to the Celtics in the ECF

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) during an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

1.) Jimmy Butler is the new king of South Beach

What a miraculous playoff run for Jimmy Butler. Butler ended up playing all 48 minutes in Game 7 after he’d scored 47 points in a do-or-die win in Boston two days earlier. While his 3 ball over Al Horford came up just short, the Heat superstar continues to cement his legacy in South Beach by giving it everything he had all season long.

While many critics said that he could’ve taken it to Horford and attacked the lane to tie the game, Butler said post-game “My thought process was go for the win, which I did. Missed the shot, but I’m taking that shot. My teammates like the shot that I took, so I’m living with it.”

This was a guy that for most of the series was a one man wrecking crew and didn’t get half the support he needed to move onto the finals.

This was a player that had previous issues with multiple franchises because he questioned their will to win and ways of practice.  He’s someone that challenges himself to not only be better but make his teammates better every single day. Jimmy wants to be here. This is his team. This is his city. I haven’t seen a player look so “Miami” since we renamed an entire county after Dwyane Wade. He’s not the problem. He’s the answer and we were all lucky enough to bask in his glory. Crown the man as the new King of South Beach.

2.) Bam Adebayo wasn’t the “Max Player” the Miami Heat needed in this ECF

Bam certainly showed his heroics in game 3 and was Miami’s second most efficient player in game 7. But there were too many times in this series where the majority said:

“Who are you and what have you done with Bam Adebayo?”

Over the years we’ve seen Bam hold his ground against stars like Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and even Jayson Tatum. But in this Eastern Conference Finals, he most certainly met his kryptonite and his name was Robert Williams. For the majority of this series it looked like the Heat wanted no part of Williams in the paint. Bam wasn’t as aggressive and failed to call for the ball almost every time Williams took the floor until game 7. Too little, too late. Williams finished the regular season as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA, but his length and big body put the Celtics in the drivers seat to make it to their first finals appearance in 12 years.  The 24-year-old didn’t contribute much on offense but his presence was ‘Ben Wallace like’ and felt throughout this entire series.

3.) Gabe Vincent and Max Strus might be forcing some veterans out the door

Ahh. yes. Can’t forget about the 2 undrafted players that made their presence known throughout this entire season. Vincent, the former UC Santa Barbara standout played excellent basketball on both sides and quickly became a fan favorite for his tenacity and ability to shoot the basketball in clutch situations. Expect Vincent to challenge Lowry for the starting point guard position next season. I strongly believe he can be a force as the third year guard outplayed Kyle Lowry for the majority of the playoffs. He’s young, but just knows what to do with the ball. Definite keeper.

Max Strus had an up and down playoffs but his 3 point shooting helped Miami claw back when they needed him most. With less than a minute to go in game 7, Strus fired up a highly contested 3  and connected which cut the Celtics lead to 2. There were times where Boston didn’t let him shoot but he also showed his ability to attack the basket which kept him ahead of the 90 million dollar man-Duncan Robinson, whom might be on his way out of Miami much sooner than later.

4. The officiating was damn near awful

I try not to make excuses for the Miami Heat or any team. For the majority of the series, the Celtics looked healthier and hungrier. However, the free throw discrepancy in this series, especially on the road was eye opening. There were also times where head-scratching loose ball fouls were called on both sides. Tyler Herro had clean blocks taken away. Challenges were overruled when they shouldn’t have been. Butler and Tatum weren’t called at times for pushing off. Marcus Smart and Kyle Lowry were both going for the academy award for best flopper in a motion picture. It was a weird series but the refs need to do much better in a conference finals.

5.) Changes will be coming

It had to hurt Jimmy Butler and the Heat big time that Miami’s free agent signings didn’t come through when needed most. Butler and Kyle Lowry are close friends but as much as the duo wanted to shine together, Lowry wasn’t in basketball shape for the majority of the entire season. Not to poke fun but he looked overweight, slow, and every bit of 36 years old. It also didn’t help that many were clamoring for Gabe Vincent to start at point guard. I get it. How can you sit someone with a championship pedigree over an undrafted player? I completely understand that it’s easier said than done, but at some point Head Coach Eric Spoelstra has to make that tough decision by benching his veterans when other guys are shining. Pj Tucker played his heart out but looked to be on his last legs and finished with 0 points in 17 minutes. Victor Oladipo finished the game with 9 points on 4-12 shooting and in a game where Tyler Herro sat for the majority of game 7 after a groin injury, Miami just needed a lot more. oH, and making their free throws certainly would’ve helped.

Expect the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks. and Boston Celtics to battle for years to come. The Heat will have to surround Jimmy with legitimate scorers if they want to make another serious run.  Anyone smell a Bradley Beal trade coming? Joel Embiid? Would you give up Tyler Herro for another all-star?

We’ll find out sooner than later.

All the best, Heat Nation and thank you for a wonderful season!