LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Miami Heat are ready for the challenge of taking on the Milwaukee Bucks.
After sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, Miami now has to face the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler said that his injured shoulder is feeling better and he’s ready to go. He said he’s been lifting weights and working on his game, and plans to play whether the injury hurts or not.
“That’s where we start at here in Miami, we pride ourselves on playing incredibly hard and locking in on the defensive end, making sure that everybody’s in the right position,” Butler said. “Obviously, they have a great offense with Giannis getting to the rim and spraying out to all the shooters they have... We know what we’re capable of.”
Butler added that defending Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo requires not just one effort from a defense, but multiple efforts.
“They’re such a good team, but it does start with him,” Butler said. “You have to lock in on him and take him out. And hopefully, take the other guys out too.”
Butler said the Heat are meant for the bubble.
“We’re here to win man, home or away,” he said. “I think this is the type of environment we like to play in. We’re not worried about the fans booing us or cheering for us for that matter. We’re just out here playing a Miami Heat style of basketball, playing with and for one another.”
Butler has been focused on raising the confidence of Miami’s younger players because he could not achieve his goals without them.
Veteran forward Udonis Haslem was asked about why he believes this team can compete against the Bucks.
“Where you from? You think I’m going to change the way I felt?” Haslem stated. “I feel like we can win it. I feel we have just as good an opportunity. When you look at everything going on right now, this team was built for the bubble, this team was built for the bubble man. Tough, when you talk hard-nosed, when you talk about work ethic, when you talk about mentally tough. There’s no team in this bubble, there’s no tougher mentally tough leader in this bubble, this team was built for anything.”
Head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Bucks are the top team in the East for a reason.
“You’re going to have to do things well, you’re going to have to do things with intention,” said Spoelstra. “You can’t have wasted possessions. It’s not just about taking a particular shot, because they do a lot of things well defensively.
“They generate a lot of 3-point looks because they have a guy who collapses your defense consistently. You’re caliber of team, the more you advance in the Playoffs, you’re going to have bigger challenges.”
Spoelstra added that the team must focus on the all five Bucks players on the floor, and not just Giannis.
“Even when you think you played him well, he’s always dancing around a triple-double,” said Spoelstra. “They’ve got a lot of weapons.”