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Heat find their dream scenario vs. Celtics in East finals, as higher-seeded underdog

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

MIAMI — This is exactly what the Miami Heat wanted, the very type of thing that brought a smile to the face of forward Jimmy Butler after Monday’s practice at FTX Arena.

No, not mere homecourt advantage, which will be the case against the Boston Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals that open Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

No, not carrying the No. 1 seed into the proceedings.

But, rather, the seeds of doubt.

As in the lower seed, the road team, the Celtics being favored by almost all bookmakers.

As in various power ratings giving the Celtics the far greater chance to emerge as 2022 NBA champion.

 

“What I love about this team the most,” Butler said, “is ain’t nobody paying attention to what anybody else picks, because we know we can win. Those are guys that I want to go to war with.

“We’re gonna fight, and we’re gonna come out on top. I think this is going to be really fun and really interesting.”

Considering it is Celtics-Heat, it likely has little other option, be it the teams’ dramatic 2020 Eastern Conference finals the Heat won in the Disney World quarantine bubble, to LeBron James going into TD Garden and stealing the Celtics’ souls with his 45-point performance in Game 6 of the 2012 East finals, to Heat president Pat Riley telling former Celtics general manager Danny Ainge to STFU, because, well, just because he could.

“I’ve heard a few times throughout the year about the thing with Boston,” veteran Heat power forward P.J. Tucker said of his impending first taste of Heat-Celtics. “But we have that anyway, no matter who we’re going to play, that fight, that desire to win. We worked hard all year to get to his moment.”

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