After missing seven games with a sore right knee, JimmyButler played his first game at the Garden since his masterpiece in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Miami Heat survived a miracle shot in the final seconds by Jaylen Brown to win a 120-116 overtime game on Friday night, despite not being very impressive in the return of JimmyButler.
"He's such a winning player," the coach said. I didn't run a play for him through the first 3 quarters. He helps your team win by competing.
It had looked like the Celtics had closed the door on him when he made baskets on back-to-back possessions in the final minute of regulation, the first coming off an assist from Kyle Lowry and the second after he got Al Horford to switch onto him.
Brown came through for Boston. After taking the inbounds pass from Marcus Smart, Brown took a couple of dribbles and launched a 30-footer that banked in off the backboard as time expired to send the game to overtime.
The coach said he was happy that the player who defended the play didn't commit a foul when Brown turned around.
Brown said it felt good to come off his hands. If we missed, we could get the rebound or tip out, so we wanted to get a shot up as quickly as possible. I let it fly after catching it in my hand.
The man tipped his cap to the other person.
"Jaylen was making shots all game long, and he did what he does, and that's what he did." It's difficult. You have to deal with that. I don't like fouls and probably should've challenged it, but I also don't like contesting it. I'm happy that he made it, but I'm also happy that we got the subtitles.
In overtime, the Heat didn't lose their cool. They pressed their advantage and put Butler in position to close the door on the Celtics. After burying a short jumper to put Miami up by four with 9.1 seconds to go, Butler made sure it stayed closed.
The Celtics fell to a league-best 18-5 on the year after losing their third overtime game.
"It looked like he's got his energy, he's got his legs under him," said Adebayo, who had 28 points and seven rebound for the Heat. He hit some big shots late in the game.
In Wednesday's win over Miami, Miami did a better job on the Celtics' All-NBA forward, who went off for 49 points. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting in his worst game of the year.
It was the third time this season that he had been held under 20 points, and the 14 points and five made field goals were both season-lows.
The biggest thing about the league is that. Nobody is going to stop anyone from scoring. We live with the result because I feel like we are making him take tough shots.
It was the eighth time this season that Miami had a projected starting five. The hope within the team is that this is the start of a rise up the Eastern Conference table.
The belief is fueled by the return of the team's leader.
The win felt good.
He said that they never lost confidence in themselves. We know what's possible. It's up to us to prove it and do it. We don't worry about anyone else but the guys in this locker room. We have a long way to go, but we can make it.