Heat's Erik Spoelstra Says Jimmy Butler 'Would Not Let Us Lose' Game 6 vs. Celtics

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 23: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat talks with head coach Erik Spoelstra against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at FTX Arena on January 23, 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)
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Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised All-Star forward Jimmy Butler for carrying the team to a season-saving Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

"Jimmy just brought his competitive will tonight," Spoelstra told reporters. "It was a will that would not let us lose."

Butler tallied 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a block in a 111-103 Miami victory despite a knee injury that's hampered him throughout the Eastern Conference Finals.

The 32-year-old Houston native looked completely revitalized in Game 6 after scoring just 19 total points while hobbling his way through the previous two contests.

It allowed the Heat to fend off elimination, and now they'll get an opportunity to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals with a home game Sunday night.

Spoelstra, who said there are "no two better words in pro sports than Game 7," said these types of high-pressure situations bring out the best in players like Butler.

"I want our guys just to embrace this moment," Spoelstra said. "Jimmy Butler is a great competitor; he really is. You can misdefine him in a lot of different ways, but his competitive will is as high as anybody that has played this game. He put his fingerprints on this game."

Teammate Kyle Lowry summed it up more simply: "It's f--king incredible."

Butler provided a modest response when asked about his performance, which established a new career high for points in a playoff game.

"I think I did decent throughout the game," he said.

The Heat needed every bit of that "decent" outing to hold off the Celtics, as the other eight members of the roster who saw the floor combined to shoot 40.8 percent from the field (20 of 49).

Miami will probably need another dazzling display from Butler in Game 7 to have a chance to break down the vaunted Boston defense.

If the Heat advance, a few days off before opening the Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday would be a welcome sight for a roster that's been pretty banged up.