Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have already defied expectations after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference — and the superstar thinks his team will continue its winning ways in the Eastern Conference Final.
“This year is our year,” Butler said on Tuesday, according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. “We're going to go into this game 1 and do what we're supposed to do and be the first one to four. We are very capable of it. We have enough guys that are playing some incredible basketball. I like our chances, as does everyone in this organization.”
The 33-year-old has been extremely confident this season, even saying before the NBA's Play-In Tournament that the Heat were good enough to win the title in 2023.
Miami put the league on notice when they defeated Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in five games in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs, and followed that up with a six-game victory over Jalen Brunson and the Knicks in Round 2.
Still, Jimmy Butler admitted that the Boston Celtics are a great team, and that it will be a hard fought series for the Heat either way.
“If there's ever a need for perfect basketball, even though it's not really a thing,” Butler told Jackson, “we better get as close to it as we can.”
The Heat and Celtics are very familiar with one another over the past three seasons; Boston beat Miami in Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals last year, avenging a six-game series loss in the ECF in the 2020 NBA bubble.
Both times, the winner went on to lose in the NBA Finals. The Heat were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, and the Golden State Warriors took out the Celtics in 2022.
One thing is for sure; anytime Boston and Miami meet in the playoffs, it leads to an electric series, and 2023 promises to be no different with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.