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Additional terms apply. And I do always appreciate him other than the times where he just gives off terrible and I mean putrid food opinions. And then I have to go on his own show in Miami and just slap him around.
But do love me some Alex Solana and he joins us right now. Alex, what's going on my friend? I'm good. You didn't get that public sub that I sent you to replace your Katz's Deli menu order, Zach? No, it got lost in the mail. Got lost in the mail. I actually told my mailing department if I get any mail from Alex Solana to just reroute it back and just politely decline any mail from you.
So that's what I did. I appreciate you having me on here to talk about the Eastern Conference Finals. And listen, you want to get some food takes, you let me know.
I'm always ready to go for you, Zach. We will pause on your food takes, but I will say about the Heat, you know I have a lot of respect for Miami and what Pat Riley and Eric Spolstra have there. I also love Jimmy Butler. You saw in the last really two rounds this Boston team play around and it looked like they were going to get burned up against Philadelphia before the Sixers do what they always do in a big game and that's not show up. This is a different Miami Heat team. I'm fascinated tonight to see what Boston shows in Game 1. There's a lot of pressure for the Celtics in this Game 1 in my opinion.
Yeah, they are, right? You almost feel like the Heat are sort of playing with house money. I mean, they're not supposed to be here, Zach, right? I mean, they lost a playing game to Atlanta. They were down three points with two minutes to go versus the Bulls at home at risk of their season ending by virtue of losing two play-in games. I mean, you want to talk about embarrassment for a team that was the number one overall seed last year. They brought everybody back outside of P.J.
Tucker who they didn't want to pay and this season was just up and down. It really was the epitome of mediocrity for this Heat team and here they are, this little eight seed nobody believed in. They were constant big underdogs against Milwaukee even when Giannis was out and they took him down in five, right? Comebacks in both Games 4 and 5. Down 16 points in the fourth quarter to start the fourth quarter in Game 5 and somehow more Jimmy Butler heroics. They get it done. And once again, against the New York Knicks, underdogs in pretty much every game, especially on the road, Jimmy Butler rolls his ankle in Game 2.
Didn't matter. They are able to take care of business in six, so they've won both Game 1s now to start the Milwaukee and New York series on the road. Very interested to see, one, how Jimmy Butler's ankle is holding up, right? That's going to be a major part in this series. He's had four days off now to try to heal up as best as possible, but can Miami go into a hostile environment? We know the Celtics are good at home. Both teams capable of winning on the road. I think tonight will be a huge deciding factor.
It's a very cliche take, I understand that, Zach. But a huge deciding factor to see how the Heat match up against the Celtics team in the Eastern Conference rematch the third time in four years between these two clubs. Now, I do think Boston's going to win the series, but I will say I do think Boston, or I would hope Boston, has a greater focus level to start than they did up against Philadelphia. Because I don't think the Celtics respected Philadelphia because they own them. I know that Boston respects this team that Miami has.
Yeah, I mean, you'd like to think so, right? And I was listening to some radio in Boston just kind of previewing the series leading up to today. And there were some people who didn't even consider this a legitimate rivalry.
And I think that's incorrect. I think both teams respect each other. Again, I mentioned third time they're playing each other in four years in the Eastern Conference Finals. And the Heat beat them once already in six. And last year, the Celtics probably were the better team. But they almost lost in a Game 7 at home in Miami after losing a Game 6 where we all saw what Jimmy Butler did going just absolutely insane, 43 points.
And he's been playing even better this season in the postseason. So it's interesting how the Heat are going to approach this one if they're just going to rely on their shooting, if they're hoping Butler and Van carry them, not just through the series, but to power through a Game 1, a pivotal Game 1, or if they're just going to try to play in the mud. That's been a phrase we've been using a lot here because you saw it against the Knicks up their physicality and just really try to play old school Eastern Conference Miami Heat style basketball. And I think that's going to be the approach tonight, a physical battle, and see how the Celtics are able to respond to that. I think the comment's interesting, Alex Alana, when you hear Celtics fans say that this is not a rivalry with the Miami Heat. I guess, and I know you're not going to like this comment. I'll preface it with what I'm about to say. You know, Boston fans, they're looking to have arguments.
They're looking to have a little fun. And I feel like the Heat fans, they just show up, they wear the white t-shirt, they root on their team, but they're not looking to get into fights and go crazy, like I am at times, even though I'm not a Celtics fan, but you get that Northeast kind of feel. Yeah, it's fair. I know Boston fans had a lot to say when they were up 3-1 on the Florida Panthers. That didn't necessarily end up too well for all the Boston Bruins fans. You're talking about worst case scenario for Boston, having the greatest regular season team in the history of the NHL, bounced after having a 3-1 lead to the Florida Panthers, who nobody respects in the hockey world as a legitimate hockey organization. Now they're in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Miami Heat taking out who the Celtics were afraid of, right, in the Milwaukee Bucks. It was kind of Milwaukee, Boston. I think Boston, the only team they were afraid of was Milwaukee. The Heat beat them in five. There must have been a sigh of relief by everybody in Milwaukee saying, oh, all we have to do is go through the Sixers.
Like you said, they don't respect. And then the Knicks, because I don't think anybody expected the Heat to keep up this play. Everybody's expecting them to regress. And while their shooting has come back down to earth after shooting 45% versus Milwaukee in the first round, again, this is a team that feels they belong there, and they're being led by Jimmy Butler, who is just playing at this level, where he doesn't care who he's going up against.
He feels like he's the best player on the floor, and that's the way he's playing. So I'm with you. I do think Boston fans, they like to talk a little bit, and the Heat fan doesn't get the respect it probably deserves as far as fandom goes.
But nonetheless, it's two organizations that do respect each other. With the way, Alex Solana, that the Heat are currently constructed, when we saw them a few years ago get to the NBA Finals in the bubble, which I don't hold that against them whatsoever. It's the same conference finals a few years later. Do you think this team can win a championship in the way that they're currently constructed right now?
If you would have asked me this a month and a half ago, I would have said no. I would have told you that there would be a major, major rehaul in terms of personnel in this offseason, and Pat Riley would have had his hands full to try to reconstruct this roster. You're talking about guys like Max Shrews, Gabe Vincent, who they were hoping, again, the Heat, they bought into this idea, growth from within, and during the regular season, 82-game sample size, it didn't feel like the Caleb Martin, the Max Shrews, the Gabe Vincent experiment worked.
Kyle Lowry, everybody was shipping him out, and Tyler Hero and Bam Adebayo were on the trading block down here. But I mean, look, you're looking at a situation where the Heat played 50-plus close games in the regular season, and what the NBA considers clutch games, and now you're seeing it pay off here in the postseason. I don't think they're as talented as Boston, top to bottom, roster-wise. But what I do think, maybe it gets devalued a bit across sports, just because it sounds funny and we kind of like to poke fun at it, but this team genuinely believes that they can beat anybody on any given night, and they believe, again, led by Jimmy Butler, that they belong in this series, no matter what their regular season record was.
I mean, Zach, you want to talk about an argument for the regular season, doesn't matter? Look no further than this Miami Heat team, because what they've been able to accomplish now, with the roster, a lot of people thought was pretty much busted, like this experiment had failed, here they are again meeting the Boston Celtics. So again, I understand talent-wise, top to bottom, they don't have what it takes to match up against the Denver's and the Celtics and even the Bucks, but what they do have is two guys who are very, very talented, one of them and Jimmy Butler, who plays like a superstar come playoff time, and then they have the best coach in the NBA, which I also think matters a ton going into this conference finals. I know that the health of Butler is the number one thing, and he was great in that last series, even with the ankle injury, and he is just phenomenal, I love Jimmy Butler, but to see how much better Bam got throughout that series and looked like that other star, I think that's enormous, and in this series too, with how much Al Horford was just using the last series to try to slow down and beat, I think the play of Bam Adebayo in this series is going to be something a lot of people are going to start to realize, where you know how good he can be, but he really took his game to that level that we expect him to in that last series.
This is being coined down here as the Bam Adebayo series. Everybody expects what they expect from Jimmy, how's his ankle going to fare, and let's not forget here, Zach, one important aspect of Jimmy Butler's ankle is that the Heat play every other day in the conference final, so there's never going to be an instance where he's able to rest more than one day. They start today, and then they play every other day moving forward, so no matter how good his ankle looks today, I think it'll be interesting to see how it looks by game three, by game four, when he continues to have to play on it with very limited rest, so that's certainly one way that you can analyze Jimmy Butler, wait until game three or four, but as far as Bam Adebayo goes, look what the Celtics did. You want to talk about lack of gamesmanship from the rookie head coach? He could have waited until an hour before tip-off today to let everybody know how his starting lineup would look. Would he go back to Derek White, or would he keep that big lineup that worked for them in game six and seven to counter the pick-and-roll action from Embiid and Harden? And he said it two days ago, no, no, we're going to keep Robert Williams in the starting lineup.
He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to let anybody know until an hour before tip-off, but he wanted it to be known that, yeah, we're going big and we're going to do a lot of what we tried to do last year versus Bam Adebayo to limit him. There are a lot of Heat fans who had a lot of things to say about Bam last year from the offensive side of the ball because of his lack of production versus Boston, versus this team that seems to have a lot of success going up against them.
Him and Robert Williams go way back. They played high school basketball together, so those two are very familiar with each other, and they're going to play drop coverage. They're going to allow Bam Adebayo to step into jumpers, and just like you said, against New York, he took over that series. When Jimmy Butler would go to the bench, they were winning the non-Jimmy minutes, which are pivotal for this Heat team to survive against anybody, and it was led by Bam in the last couple games. That's the type of production they're going to need from number 13 because if he's not playing excellent basketball, not just good, but excellent basketball on both ends of the floor at an efficient level, this Heat team, truthfully, is just not good enough to compete with Boston.
They need their two best players playing excellent to win four games. Alex Solana, before we let you run pre and post on the Heat Radio Network, the Damian Lillard factor of this, because I look at the Heat and I see a guy like Jimmy Butler, you could root for him to win a championship, someone that doesn't have a dog in this fight. You look at Mannerik Spolcher, you want to see him win a championship post-Lebron and Wade and Bosh. Everyone keeps on throwing out in this offseason, maybe Dame to Miami.
How much interest is there in Miami? Because if you could put together a team with Butler and Dame, man, that would be really tough to stop. It would, but I don't think the Heat, and look, there has to be interest. I'm not saying that I've spoken to anybody within the organization and they've told me that there's interest, but any team would be crazy not to have interest in adding Damian Lillard for the right price. I just think if you're going to get Damian Lillard, it was the same case with Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. They're going to want Bam Adebayo and probably Tyler Herro if they can make the salaries work. I don't think the Miami Heat will be willing to give up Bam Adebayo, even if it is for Damian Lillard.
Because does Jimmy Butler and Damian Lillard win you an NBA title? And the type of style, the Heat play, it's predicated on so much of what Bam does. Being able to be that defensive stopper who can cover one through five.
You're going to see it a ton in this series. He's probably covering Jalen Browner and Jason Tatum on switches purposely because that's the way the Heat have crafted their defense. Can they just flip the switch next season with Eric Spulcher's expertise as a more offensive team, lacking that type of defensive catalyst? Sure, but is that something they want to do? I don't know, especially given how much Jimmy and Lillard are going to be due in terms of salary and the style of play that they both demand.
It's an interesting question. If the Heat could add Damian Lillard and keep Jimmy and Bam and they have me suiting up as their starting four, I think they'd do it. Zach, I don't know how your jumper's looking these days. I'm an elbow guy. I throw elbows. Jumper's not good. I just throw elbows. Well, UD's retiring so they're going to need another enforcer.
Yeah, that's actually my player comp. You don us Haslam. I sit off the bench if I needed to.
I could throw some elbows and grab some rebounds. Solana, before we let you run, last thing. I feel so bad because this series is already over before it even started because my producer is a professional mush. The Hickey Hex is a real thing and he believes the Heat are winning this series.
You guys are screwed. I'm just letting you know. Man, and I was such a big fan of Hickey. Such a big fan. Hickey, don't choose the Heat, man. You are the mush. I listen religiously to this show. You're the mush. I'm sorry, man.
I love you. I don't want you on our side. Go with Boston like the rest of the media up there by you guys. Go with Boston. It's the easy pick. It's the safe pick. That's the way Miami people like it.
Always pick against us and that's our comfort zone. Alex Solana, make sure you listen to him pre and post to the Heat Radio Network. Alex, thanks so much. Zach, you're the best, man. Thank you.
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