Jimmy Butler’s Bold Celtics-Heat Game 3 Prediction Didn’t Age Well

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When the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat went head-to-head on a level playing field in Game 3 on Saturday night, an injured Jimmy Butler dropped a confident prediction that failed to come to life by the final buzzer.

“I think we believe; it’s everybody else that don’t,” Butler said during TNT’s live coverage of Game 3. “If I gotta hear one more praise about Boston on national TV when we win a game — I’m tired of hearing that, man. It’s 1-1. We finna go up 2-1.”

The Heat returned to Miami riding the momentum of having out-played the Celtics for five consecutive quarters — a stretch that began with the team’s 35-point final frame in Game 1. Butler, who’s still out indefinitely with a sprained MCL, trolled Boston’s Jaylen Brown on social media after Game 2. Miami rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. claimed Miami “just wanted it more,” while all the Celtics did afterward was credit the Heat with a postgame pat-on-the-back session after getting punked on their home floor.

However, returning to Miami — where Boston had won its previous four consecutive matchups with the Heat — the Celtics let their play do the talking.

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After caving in like a house of cards, defensively, in Game 2, the Celtics reassured themselves they could indeed guard the perimeter. Boston shrunk Miami’s offense, limiting the Heat to just 12 points in the first quarter and a season-low 39 points by halftime. Miami didn’t only lose touch with its red-hot 3-point shooting hand, but couldn’t muster up a single ounce of creativity to put points up on the board throughout the night.

The Celtics scored 24 points off 12 Miami turnovers, humbling the Heat before their entire fanbase in a 104-84 blowout victory.

“We learn from our experiences and now’s the time to show it,” Brown said after Boston (not Miami) took a 2-1 lead, per NBC Sports Boston. “… On any given night, teams can come out and hit a plethora of shots. They had a record-breaking night the other day but we don’t panic. We watched the film and broke it down, seeing where we can make improvements, and then we come out and we execute. And I thought that’s what we did tonight.”

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Halfway done, the Celtics are now just two wins away from putting the Butler-less Heat away for good and ending their season.

Boston can clinch the series at home in Game 5 if the Celtics return to TD Garden with a successful 2-for-2 trip to Miami.

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