The series began with Jimmy Butler claiming the foul line and the Miami Heat claiming an early lead in these Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
With Butler 18 off 17 on a free throw in Game 1, the Heat set the tone.
The pace was theirs, then there was enough time to defend themselves.
By Game 2, the footing was more uniform, with Victor Oladipo throwing garbage-free to some extent in that heat loss in the evening.
Since then, when Butler is confined at the knee?
Game 3: Celtics 30 free throws, Heat 14.
Game 4: Celtics 38, Heat 14.
For his part, Butler took the high road in the wake of a 102-82 Game 4 loss at TD Garden on Monday night.
“I think we just have to get more physical,” he said, as the Heat turned their attention to Game 5 at the FTX Arena on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. “When you shoot a lot of jump shots, which we tend to do [Monday]The free-throw line is hard to reach. I think we should be like a strong team, get in the paint, not get out of touch, and play from the inside out.
“Whenever we do that and don’t shoot as many jumpers, we can get a little foul.”
Oladipo gave some thought otherwise may have to consider.
“I think sell it more,” she said with a smile. “Keep on attacking and put pressure on them and on the referee.
“Hopefully we can get some of those calls. But with everything on both ends of the floor it’s better to continue working collectively.”
During the regular season, the Heat averaged 21.4 free throws per game, ranking 19th in the NBA, the Celtics 24th and 20.9th.
In the playoffs, the Heat are 12th on a 16-team field in free throws per game, with the Celtics seventh.
For the Heat, when it comes to the foul line, it is often a pounce or a stir with the butler. And the pain in his right knee lacked his burst, his brief Game 3 appearance with just two free throws, none on Monday night in Game 4.
In contrast, Tatum was 14 out of 16 from the line on Monday in his 31-point performance. And that, in turn, allowed the Celtics to establish their defense.
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said of the Celtics All-Star forward, “He was able to go into the gap, get the angle, and hit the foul.” “That was the hardest part. Just seeing the ball go in from the free throw line, he was in good shape.
“It wasn’t like those explosions that happened after a few losses in the first playoff. It was more about being on the free-throw line and being able to get us out of position.”
Center Bam Adebayo said it was now the Heat’s turn to reverse the foul-line script, with no team so far winning the first four matches of the series in a row.
“I think we just have to go into more paint,” he said after his inactive Game 4, which consisted of just five shots “and adjust to the way they’re calling the game.”
That’s what Tatum did in Boston’s series-tying Game 4 victory.
“They’re really crowding our guys on the periphery, and so sometimes you have to break the game up and be aggressive and get down,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “Done from the start. Then they went to the smaller lineup where they don’t have a lot of rim protection, so we were really trying to paint, attack. And obviously a lot for him to get 14 or 16 free throws It’s a big deal.
Tatum said that his path to the line was made through force.
“I guess just being aggressive, right?” They said. “Obviously from the last game, whether it’s with myself, the teammates on the defensive end, just a different burst of energy for me, and that helps with free throws and other guys finding open shots and things like that. Got it.”