Erik Spoelstra is not happy with Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard.
The Miami Heat coach didn’t go as far to say that Pritchard was responsible for Jimmy Butler’s knee injury on Monday, but he didn’t rule it out. Pritchard’s play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, where he was seen grabbing Butler’s knee and ripping him to the ground, was “not a basketball play.”
“We don’t know. It could’ve had an effect [on Butler’s injury],” Spoelstra said Monday ahead of Game 4 of the series, via WPLG. “It was not a basketball play. We’re not really sure why it was determined as that was a basketball play, or that that was a legal play or that was a safe play.
“We’re not gonna say it’s bigger than it was because we don’t know if that’s what triggered Jimmy’s injury, but regardless it should be two separate examples. We don’t need it. We don’t care. The league doesn’t have to do anything. We’re not begging for s**t.”
Pritchard fell to the ground at Butler’s feet in the first half of Saturday’s game, and immediately reached for Butler’s right knee. He was seen pulling back on Butler’s knee right as the Heat star made a move to the basket — which resulted in Butler landing flat on the court.
Butler didn’t return after halftime of that game with knee inflammation, though it wasn’t clear at the time what had happened in the first half to spark that injury. He was averaging 28.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this postseason heading into Monday night.
Butler finished with just six points, however, and shot 3-of-14 from the field in their 102-82 loss to Boston in Game 4. The loss was a tough one for Miami offensively, especially after it scored just 11 points in the first quarter and missed 14 consecutive field goals to start the game.
Despite his struggles, Butler insisted his knee was fine.
"I'm straight," he said when asked about the injury, via ESPN's Nick Friedell. "No excuse for how I played tonight ... I'm not too worried about it."
The series is now tied 2-2 headed into Game 5 on Wednesday night in Miami.