Jimmy Butler Says He Played Basketball 'The Right Way' in Celtics vs. Heat Game 1

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 17: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat looks on ahead of Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler said there was no secret formula for his 41-point performance in the team's 118-107 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"I continued to play basketball the right way: Shoot the ball when I'm open, attack, hit the open guy," Butler told reporters after Tuesday's win. "Honestly, it was a team effort."

The six-time All-Star knocked down 12 of his 19 shots from the field and 17 of his 18 free-throw attempts in the series opener. He added nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks in 41 minutes.

Boston carried an eight-point lead into halftime, but Miami dominated the third quarter, 39-14, to take control of Game 1. Butler led the way with 17 points in the period.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised the 32-year-old Marquette product for his competitive fire.

"Jimmy Butler is an elite competitor," Spoelstra said. "There's a lot of guys in this league that are playing basketball. He's competing to win. That's a totally different thing and he does that as well as anybody in this league."

Former NBA center Kendrick Perkins discussed how Butler seemingly raises his game to another level in the playoffs:

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

Jimmy Butter is a postseason Superstar. He don’t give a damn about the regular season but soon as the playoffs start he quickly become a Top 5 player in the NBA! Carry the hell on…

He's certainly been on another level in this year's postseason. He's averaging 29.8 points through 11 playoff games, well above the 21.4 points per game he put up during the regular season.

For his part, Butler explained he wants to see that third-quarter intensity from his team for the remainder of the championship pursuit.

"More than anything, it just shows us what we are capable of whenever we worry about getting stops, getting into the open floor, getting to the free throw line, all those good things," Butler said. "It just reminds me, we can do it. I see it on this piece of paper. I lived it. So I expect us to do that every quarter from here on out."

Meanwhile, the Celtics have a lot to like about Game 1. Playing on the road, they outscored the Heat in three of the four quarters, knocked down 11 threes and got some valuable bench production from Payton Prichard (18 points).

That provides some reason for optimism moving forward, especially if they're able to get back Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (healthy and safety protocols), who both missed the opener.

Butler was a little too much in Game 1, however, and now the Heat will have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead when the series resumes Thursday night.