NBA

'We'll take mad Jimmy any time' – Williams row fires up Butler as Heat seize 2-0 lead

By Sports Desk May 20, 2023

Jimmy Butler said his bust-up with Grant Williams lit the fire within after leading the Miami Heat to a terrific comeback win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.  

Boasting a 96-87 lead midway through the fourth quarter at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics looked set to level the series at 1-1, only for Butler to lead his team to a huge 111-105 victory.

Butler scored nine of his team-high 27 points after he went head-to-head with Williams in a heated exchange in the fourth quarter, with the Heat closing the game with a 24-9 run.

Asked whether that incident helped to instigate his strong finish to the game, Butler said: "Yes, it did.

"But that's just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot, started talking to me. I like that. I'm all for that. 

"It makes me key in a lot more, it pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does. 

"When people talk to me, I'm like, 'okay, I know I'm a decent player if you want to talk to me, out of everybody that you can talk to'. It's just competition. 

"I do respect him, though. He's a big part of what they try to do. He switches, he can shoot the ball. I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to."

Heat guard Caleb Martin concurred, suggesting Williams picked the wrong man to provoke. 

"I knew it was going to be good for us," Martin said. "Knowing Jimmy, at that point in the game, if you get him going… we'll take mad Jimmy any time! 

"You could kind of see it in his eyes that he was ready to go after that."

With Miami set to assume home advantage for Game 3 on Sunday, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat's ability to find new ways to win has been a key feature of their postseason run. 

"It feels like this has just been our existence all year long," Spoelstra said. "I guess nobody is really paying attention. 

"But every single game… it felt like for weeks on end, every game was ending on the last-second shot, whether we're shooting it or the other team is shooting it.

"You develop some grit from that. Whether that turns into confidence or not, sometimes you don't have the confidence, but at least you have that experience of going through stuff and you understand how tough it is."

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