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May 17, 2022

Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat

Game 1: Postgame

Heat 118, Celtics 107

Q. Jimmy just seems to be finding, as you get deeper into the playoffs, ways to put his thumbprint on games. Was the second half maybe even just a continuation of him raising whatever bar he set for himself in these playoffs?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, each level and round the competition is raised and you can sense it, you can feel it. It's a very good team over there. Well schooled. They know what they want to try to get to. They put a tremendous amount of pressure on you in the paint. That was almost record setting what they were doing to our defense in the first half in terms of getting into the paint and breaking us down.

And then Jimmy just really inspired everybody in that third quarter. Those two steals kind of changed the momentum. And then every time and pocket in the game when we needed to control the game or get the right shot or make right decision, Jimmy had his fingerprints on that.

You're seeing great two-way basketball really on both sides. He was lined up against a great player the entire game, that great player is lined up against him and that's what it's all about: elite two-way basketball.

Q. That third quarter, there was so much going on. What do you see that turns a game like that? What specifically did your team do in that burst?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: It wasn't one play. It was multiple effort plays that our group ignites from that inspiration. It could be Tuck diving on the floor, making an extra effort, batting the ball away. Bam's block. Jimmy, the two steals. The closeouts by Max. Gabe coming in there and digging out some loose balls when they have an opportunity to dunk it underneath.

You know, the guys were just really disappointed at halftime. I barely needed to say anything. Everybody was just disappointed at our defensive effort and focus. But look, this is a very good team that we're playing against. So it's not only us saying that, hey, we have to do that better. They are putting a lot of pressure on our defense, and that's what you expect when you get to this level.

Q. You mentioned the first half how they were breaking the defense down and they were 16-of-20 at the rim in the first half. Pretty uncharacteristic. What was fixed in the second half?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: We contained the ball at the point of attack a little bit better. To say that you can do that mano y mano without any help is totally unrealistic. It has to be a team defense. You have to get in the gaps. You have to rotate. You have to make multiple efforts. They are going to get you scrambling at some point because they are going to -- even if you cut off the first drive or the second drive, there's going to be a spin dribble and then a scramble. As they make a pass out, you have to get to a three-point shooter, get them off the line. And it just begins when the shot goes up. There's going to be a lot of grappling and blocking out, and you just have to go up in traffic and get it.

We just made a lot more plays in the second half.

Q. How important was P.J., coming back from the injury and being there in the key third-quarter run for you guys?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I feel like I said this about a bunch of our guys, the heartbeat of our team, because Bam is, obviously Jimmy is, but Tuck, for sure, is. He inspires everybody. And by the time that I had walked into the locker room, he looked at me dead in the eye and said, Don't even think about it, I'm playing in the second half.

I'm like, all right, I wasn't questioning it. But what he does doesn't really get noticed by everybody out there -- I don't have my glasses; I don't even know what his stat line was -- but you're talking about one of the toughest covers. And then when he's on the weak side, he does all the right things. He's like a great linebacker. He just gets everybody organized and he communicates so well, guys get to their spots.

Q. You talk about the great transition Gabe has made from undersized scorer to playmaker, but players retain their instincts. Seemed like Gabe knew that he had to turn a little more in the third quarter to that to get you going. Is it nice to know that he still has that there when required?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, I think the biggest part of his development is just making winning basketball plays and not trying to be what anybody might think he has to be, whether that's a gunslinger or whether that's just a set-up guy or somebody to try to fill Kyle's shoes. He's a different player, but he has so much experience with us. I know he doesn't have like extensive NBA experience, but he has three years with us. He's not a 20-year-old. He's a pro and he's earned a lot of confidence in the locker room. He knows how to bring out different things. Whether he needs to get the ball to certain guys like Jimmy or we needed a spark, we needed some shooting in the second half and he was able to provide that.

Q. What is it about Jimmy's personality that allows him to raise the level of his own game as the platform and themselves get bigger?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I've said this before: Jimmy Butler is an elite competitor. There are a lot of guys in this league playing basketball; he's competing to win. That's a totally different thing, and he does that as well as anybody in this league.

Q. How important was transition basketball tonight? Both teams seemed intent of running off of misses.

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Of course. You have two really good defenses and you're looking for any kind of advantages in the margins. Whatever we're saying, I guarantee they are saying it, and they definitely did that to us in the first half.

Q. Actually going back to that first half, halftime, we should say, you mentioned that you didn't really have to say anything to the guys; they had the understanding of what was going on. What was the gut-check moment where things did change in the third quarter?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: You know, just getting a few more stops. We're accustomed to getting multiple stops in a row, like I'm sure Boston feels the same way. You have two teams that are kind of mirror images just in terms of the competitiveness defensively, and when that's not happening, there's a lot of emotions. There can be disappointment, frustration, anger, like all of that, and that's what this whole series is going to be about.

Q. Their defense at the very start of the game seemed to hit you guys pretty hard, first ten or 12 possessions. What was that first timeout?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: You have to get used to it. This is different. Each level you go, you're going to get a higher level. The four teams that are still around are committed defensive teams. You're not going to just come down and run a simple action and get a wide-open shot. You're going to have to really do things with detail.

Every detail matters in a series like this. We have great respect. It's not as if our guys haven't seen Boston play this year. You take notice when they are holding teams under 90 like consistently. What they do is really unique, and you have to do things with great purpose.

Q. You talk about Jimmy's competitiveness and doing a little bit of everything for you guys, but he's already scored 36 or more more times in the playoffs than he did in the entire regular season. Most guys' playoff scoring numbers go down. Is some of this just the way you guys are going over the scouting reports or any of that kind of stuff?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I mean, obviously everything is -- you know, you have heightened attention to detail. But again, I don't want to get in a long dissertation about it. If you're driven by competition, and the stakes get raised, you're going to raise your level of play. It's not about trying to get bigger numbers. It's about doing what's required.

And this level is high level, this competition, and he senses it, and he knows it. He feels it. And he was able to produce and put us in a position to feel comfortable to be able to win this game tonight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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