Fri | Jan 15, 2021

Butler, Heat punch a ticket into Conference Finals

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 12:06 AM


Jimmy Butler set the tone for the Miami Heat season on the first day of training camp.

He got to the gym at 3:30 a.m., letting team-mates know how hard he expected them to work. And then he filmed himself singing throughout the drive to the team hotel, letting team-mates know how much fun they were going to have.

The formula is already a success.

The Heat are headed to the Eastern Conference finals, after ousting the top-seeded – and ailing – Milwaukee Bucks in five games. Miami went up 3-0 when the Bucks had reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, lost Game 4 when he couldn’t play anymore, then finished the series off Tuesday night with Milwaukee’s best player only able to watch.

But Butler wants much more than just getting to this point.

“We’re a close group,” Butler said. “We like being around one another, constantly talking about how we can make each other better. And what we see out there on the floor ... we’re legit in it to win it. We don’t care about stats, we don’t care about fame, we don’t care about none of that. All that we all care about is winning the championship. And I’m telling you, that’s why we’re playing this style of basketball that we’re playing right now.”

The Heat have seven players – Udonis Haslem, Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard and Solomon Hill – who have appeared in conference finals games.

Butler won’t be in that club until early next week when the Heat open the East title series against either Boston or Toronto. He’d been to the playoffs seven times before coming to Miami, never getting past the second round.