Erik Spoelstra Took Exception To Payton Pritchard Play On Jimmy Butler

'It was not a basketball play'


May 23, 2022

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard was the focal point of an overlooked-yet-questionable play on Jimmy Butler during Saturday’s Game 3 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

It probably won’t be overlooked for much longer, though. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke out about Pritchard’s play Monday when asked if it had an impact on Butler not playing the second half of Miami’s eventual Game 3 victory.

In responding to the question, the veteran coach expressed his discontent with Pritchard’s act.

“We don’t know. It could have had an effect,” Spoelstra told reporters ahead of Game 4 at TD Garden, per The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. “It was not a basketball play. We don’t know why it was determined a basketball play or a safe play. … We don’t care, the league doesn’t have to do anything.”

The play occurred midway through the second quarter as Butler set a screen on Pritchard, forcing the undersized guard to slip to the ground. With Celtics teammate Grant Williams switching to defend Heat guard Tyler Herro, Pritchard tried to prevent Butler from getting to the rim and fouled the Heat star by grabbing his knee. (You can watch the play here.)

The play flew under the radar both during and after the game. It was not addressed by the Celtics during their postgame press conferences.

Butler was ruled out by the Heat at halftime due to right knee inflammation. Miami then held off Boston’s second-half comeback en route to taking a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven.

Butler, who was listed as questionable, intends to play in Game 4 on Monday night at TD Garden. Miami will be without Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, though.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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