Jimmy Butler has assured he will sustain intensity against the Boston Celtics, following the Miami Heat's 118-107 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.
Butler was at his best for the Heat, finishing with 41 points on 12-of-19 shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.
He also took 18 free-throw attempts and only two three-point attempts in comparison, attacking the basket at almost every opportunity.
Against a Boston team that can be just as physical and aggressive as the Heat, the six-time All-Star said he will thrive on it, but the individual stat line does not matter in relation to wins and losses.
"I like physicality. I want to run into people and see who falls down first, who's going to quit first," Butler said. at the post-game news conference.
"I think that's the style of basketball I like to play and so do they. I was zero-for-two from three tonight, I want to go zero-for-zero next game, because I just want to keep banging into people.
"I think I speak for my teammates, the Miami Heat organisation when I say I know what I'm capable of. I don't do this, score 40 points, I play the way that I play to win, by all means necessary. It just so happens that I scored 40, but if I score 40 and lose I'm gonna be really pissed off.
"I have so much trust in my teammates and I will continue to play that way. I've been a quote unquote scorer at other points in my career, and it didn't work out too well for me, so I'm glad that I have the guys that I have around me and with me."
Another night with 40+ points. Jimmy is a man on a mission. pic.twitter.com/XlhOijtwOG— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 18, 2022
Down by eight at the start of the second half, the Heat turned it around with a 39-14 third quarter in which they were able to get six steals and force the Celtics to none-of-seven from the perimeter.
Butler's 17 points and three steals as the Heat turned Game 1 around were critical, but he asserted that the team knew they needed to dial up the intensity on the defensive end before coach Erik Spoelstra even addressed them.
"It's crazy because he [Spoelstra] didn't have to say too much," he said. "We already knew what we were doing wrong – turning the ball over, not getting back. We're at home, we've got to play better basketball, as a team. We did that, went on a little run, but this was just a win.
"I've said it all season long, whenever we let our defense dictate our offense, we're a much better team – we get stops, get into the open floor, we whip that ball around to our shooters and that's the style of basketball we call Miami Heat basketball. Gritty, dog-like, worried about getting stops instead of worried about getting buckets."