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Jimmy Butler: Knee Injury 'No Excuse' for Struggles in Heat's Game 4 Loss to Celtics

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2022

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

It looked like Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler was well on his way to an all-time Eastern Conference Finals performance when he scored 41 points in Game 1 and followed with 29 points in Game 2, but things have changed.

After scoring just eight points in 20 minutes in Game 3 and exiting with right knee inflammation, Butler posted six points in 27 minutes in Monday's 102-82 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4.

"I'm straight," Butler told reporters when discussing his knee. "No excuse for how I played tonight. … I'm not too worried about it."

The Marquette product shot just 3-of-14 from the field but was far from the only problem for the visitors. The Miami starters managed just 18 points with P.J. Tucker and Max Strus going scoreless.

Its bench was much better with Victor Oladipo leading the way with 23 points, six assists and four rebounds, but the game was never in doubt because the Heat scored just 11 points in an ugly first quarter.

The Boston defense deserves plenty of credit for swarming Butler and cutting off Bam Adebayo's drives to the basket, and Jayson Tatum helped make up for Marcus Smart's absence with 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

The silver lining for Miami is that it will host Wednesday's Game 5.

It looked to be in trouble in the second round when it lost two straight to the Philadelphia 76ers in Games 3 and 4 and managed just 79 points in the first of those defeats, but the Heat capitalized on home-court advantage with a 120-85 victory in Game 5 and never looked back.

If something similar is going to happen in the Eastern Conference Finals against the formidable Celtics, Butler will need to be much more effective than he was Monday.

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