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Erik Spoelstra Explains Benching Jimmy Butler

Erik Spoelstra Explains Benching Jimmy Butler

The Boston Celtics saved their season on Saturday night with a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat.

Their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series now sits at 2-1.

One of the more interesting things to happen at the end of Game 3 was Spoelstra’s decision to sit his team’s biggest star, Jimmy Butler, late in the outing.

Despite falling down by as many as 20 points at one point, the always scrappy Heat were somehow able to get the deficit down to five points with less than a minute to go.

Many thought that this would be a good opportunity to see Butler take over and deliver some late-game heroics, but Spoelstra opted to bench him and go a different route.

There was even some speculation after the fact that perhaps Butler suffered some sort of injury.

Not so.

Afterward, while meeting with the media, Spoelstra was asked about the rationale behind the decision.

“We were just trying to get something quick right there at the end,” he said.

All in all, this game really came down to hunger. Miami started slow and often looked lethargic, while Boston played like a squad that didn’t want to fall down 0-3.

“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep the last 48 hours,” Jaylen Brown said after the game.

“I was so antsy to get back and play basketball.  I don’t think the last two games exemplify what this team is about. So, I couldn’t wait to come out and be the best version of myself and try to add to a win.”

Brown led the way for the Celtics with 26 points in the victory.

“There’s some great guys in that locker room,” he added.

“A lot of emotion, a lot of passion. But we’re a family.  We are here for each other at the end of the day. So we exemplified that when we came out together. We stayed together during some tough moments.”

Head coach Brad Stevens alluded to something similar.

“I told the team this yesterday … like, this result didn’t really matter to me,” he said.

“It was more about: What are we going to show ourselves to be?  And I thought that we are a really special group.”

The Heat, meanwhile, have a lot to think about in the time between Games 3 and 4.

Spoelstra said this much after the game.

“I want our guys thinking about this,” he said.

Butler, meanwhile, wants his group to stop constantly having to come back from being down big.

“I think it gets old, playing from behind consistently,” he said.

“Especially against a great team like Boston and what they bring to the table.”

Bam Adebayo agreed.

“We’ve got to start the game how we start the fourth,” he said.

“I feel like we’re not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth, we just try to turn it on. It’s not like that. We are not that type of team.”

Game 4 between the Celtics and Heat is scheduled for Wednesday.

If Miami comes back and wins, then all of Saturday night’s struggles will be forgotten.

However, if Boston evens this thing up, then a lot of folks are going to start remembering how the Toronto Raptors fell 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, only to come back and win the title.

Related: Jamal Murray Gets Honest About Refs After Loss To Lakers

Carlos Garcia

A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.

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