“How else do you say it other than Jimmy effing Butler? But this is what he wanted, this is what we wanted. It’s really hard to analyze or describe Jimmy until you actually feel him between the four lines. He’s a supreme, elite competitor and we needed it.” –Erik Spoelstra.

NBA Finals: Lakers vs. Heat
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Erik Spoelstra
Miami Heat
Game 3: Postgame
Miami Heat – 115, Los Angeles Lakers – 104

Q. Should we be surprised that you guys get down 0-2
in The Finals and it’s a guy from Marquette who just
does crazy things? Are you surprised by that?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Look, how do you — how else do you
say it other than Jimmy effing Butler. But this is what he
wanted, this is what we wanted. It’s really hard to analyze
or describe Jimmy until you actually feel him between the
four lines. He’s a supreme, elite competitor and we
needed it.
Obviously this was a very desperate urgent game and he
was doing it on both ends of the court, just put his imprint
on every important part of the game. He’s in the top
percentile of this entire association in terms of conditioning
and you saw he just got stronger as the game went on.
But in terms of you saying a Marquette guy, you know,
Dwyane swore to us, he looked Pat and I dead in the eye
and said this is your guy. This is the next guy.
But it’s also just one. So we also have perspective, like
we’re not going to get carried away with this.
Q. To follow up, double-digit leads mean nothing in a
three-point era now, obviously, but you had a couple
slip away and then Rondo’s layup early in the fourth
put you guys down two. At that point, were you
worried about how much you would have had left?
You are playing shorthanded and all that, were you
worried at all?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: No, our guys are in great condition.
It’s more about conquering those moments of truth during
the game and this is where this opponent is probably — not
probably, they are better than anybody in the league at
that. You have LeBron and Rondo controlling and
orchestrating the important parts of the game and we were
losing those battles big in the first two games.
So you’re not expecting it to be easy. Like it’s a 12-point
lead, that’s going to go like that (snaps fingers), but you
have to be able to respond to it and do it appropriately.
You have to do it with intensity, but you have to do it with a
mind. To get what we’re trying to do, it can’t just be
running around as hard as you can, you have to have a
real thought behind it and a discipline and a poise, and we
showed that better tonight obviously than the first two
games.
Q. The Lakers turn it over I think like 10 times in the
first quarter or something like that, and you guys only
lead by three. At that moment did you feel like that
was an opportunity there that you didn’t take full
advantage of? And then I guess secondly Jimmy’s
just physical toughness, the fouls he took late, he was
stealing minutes on the ground there trying to, you
know.
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Nah, he wasn’t. He got hit down
there. But he knows how to do that.
The answer to your first question, no, like you’re not
expecting it to be easy. You have to do whatever is
necessary. It’s a 48-minute game for a reason. You have
to be able to compete at a high level and there’s a lot of
ups and downs during the course of it. I liked it and I really
wanted to see how we were going to respond. We have
been in those moments in games 1 and 2, they were too
fleeting and we didn’t respond that well enough. This is
elite competition both ways and we responded to it better
tonight.
And then in terms of the physicality, this is what Jimmy,
why he prepares the way he does that is so uncommon,
year-round. Just to be able to take on that physicality, to
make those plays, to be able to draw fouls and take
contact and get up and be able to make those free throws.
I mean he just was, it’s so settling when you have that type
of guy in a really competitive game like this. It allows your
other guys, and we’re playing young guys, they can just be
who they are, they don’t have to worry about too much
pressure or context. They can just be who they are when
you have somebody like that that takes on all the pressure
for them.
Q. You had a lot of players you coached over the
years who are great, LeBron, D-Wade, Shaq, Alonzo
also. Talk about what Jimmy did today, guarding
LeBron and taking over the offense on the other end,
where would you rank this in some of the best
individual performances you’ve seen throughout your
coaching career?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: First, mubahay salamat po, and
secondly out of all due respect, I’m not going to rank it. It’s
one win. Jimmy understands this, that it’s going to take
whatever is necessary, everything over the top and
beyond. This is not about comparing to anybody else in
the history, and that’s out of all due respect. It’s about
what we’re trying to get accomplished in this locker room.
We have a very committed group to this. We have
incredible respect for this opponent. We have to figure this
out, and if we’re not on top of our game we saw what it can
look like in the previous two games.
But this is why we pursued Jimmy so aggressively. We
just felt, on all across the board, there was an alignment,
that we’re sharing the same competitive values for right or
wrong and we don’t — it doesn’t matter what everybody
else thinks. We’re aligned on that and you’re able to build
a culture from that and develop a team around him.
Q. Even the greatest players in the history of sports
sometimes come up short when their team needs them
the most, the way you needed Jimmy in this game
tonight. What is it about Jimmy that makes him able to
produce his greatest game ever in his most desperate
game ever?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Oh I think there’s a lot of genuine
care and love in this locker room. Guys really want to do
this for each other. Our hearts are broken, you know,
about Goran and Bam missing these games because
there’s sincere love for them. Jimmy takes that to heart.
Guys know that they have to do more until or if those guys
come back.
But this is what competition’s all about. You have to raise
your game and like I said many times, you just can’t put an
analytic or a number or an evaluation to Jimmy Butler in
the conventional way. He is an elite top-percentile
competitor, and this is top-percentile competition that we’re
facing and it’s bringing out a different level.
Q. When you know that Jimmy’s going to play
40-plus-minutes and he’s going to defend LeBron,
what do you do from a coaching standpoint to buy him
time off the floor so he can have a little bit of energy
left to draw those fouls and not be completely worn
down?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: To be honest, we can’t afford that.
That’s why he puts in the work that he does. That’s why he
does the insane things year round, offseason to put himself
in a position like this to be able to handle all of this. No
one could have predicted that we would have some of our
main guys out and he would have to play 45 minutes a
game. But it’s whatever is necessary at this point and he’s
willing to take on that responsibility. We were not trying to
save him or — I tried to steal him a couple minutes here or
there, but we’re way past that now.
Q. You said a lot that your defense should be what’s
feeding your offense. Can you just describe what Jae
Crowder did for you on that defensive end?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, it’s the hardest challenge of his
career right now. He’s facing an MVP-type talent, he can’t
do it on his own. There’s going to have to be a five-man
defense and anything that I say right now, it’s going to be a
whole lot easier said than done. Just have to be a
competitor and throw yourself out there, be vulnerable to
the competition.
He’s our type of guy in terms of competitive spirit. But
again, look, it’s one game, we know there will be a
response and we have to be ready for that. We’re trying to
get something accomplished right here, so we know it’s
going to be tough.
Q. Their big-to-big passing the first two games really
hurt you guys at different spots, so what did you do to
try to take some of that away tonight?
ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, you know, I don’t know.
They’re really good, you know. They’re doing that against
our man in the first game, and then they’re doing it against
the zone. We tried to bring a better spirit tonight
competitively. We are who we are in between those four
lines, it was good enough to get this win tonight. But those
guys, that’s a great team and great players that you have
to take on that challenge.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports….

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