Jimmy Butler: Heat ‘Relaxed a Little Bit’ After Giannis Left Game 4 with Injury

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) celebrates after a dunk in the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo left Sunday’s Game 4 win in the second quarter after injuring his right ankle, and Jimmy Butler said the Miami Heat lost their edge after he went out.

“Well, it shouldn’t affect [our play], but I think that we relaxed a little bit,” he told reporters. “And we stopped playing basketball the right way. We stopped guarding. We stopped living by our defensive principles. We weren’t getting 50-50 balls. We were getting out-rebounded. It was just all bad.”

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Heat’s Jimmy Butler on Game 4 loss to Bucks: “We relaxed a little bit. We stopped playing basketball the right way. We stopped guarding. We stopped living by our principles. It was all bad.” https://t.co/K5Me7tVC10

Nick Friedell @NickFriedell

Jimmy, when asked if Heat took their foot off the gas: “Yeah, I think so. I think that was it. We did what we always say we can’t do which is get comfortable. We thought this one was going to be easy and it was not … so going into the next one we just got to put them away.”

Bam Adebayo concurred.

“I feel like we played like we were up 3-0,” he said. “That’s not giving enough effort, not sacrificing our body, and we ended up losing because we were up 3-0. They’re a good team. So at the end of the day, we should have played like we were in Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3 … I feel like we didn’t play a maximum effort the whole game.”

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

Dragic spoke of “some breakdowns in the defense, some silly ones too.” Like Bam, said they didn’t play hard enough. “We knew they would play more small” lineups with Giannis out.

Miami still holds a 3-1 lead in the series, and the status of Antetokounmpo going forward is unclear. The Heat have done a brilliant job of stifling the defending MVP thus far, holding him to an average of 22 points in their three wins. The Greek Freak was dominant in limited minutes Sunday, however, with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 11 minutes.

With Antetokounmpo out of action, Khris Middleton carried the torch, going off for 36 points—including 21 in the third quarter and nine in overtime—to save Milwaukee’s season.

NBA @NBA

🦌 36 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST
🦌 30 PTS in 2nd half, 9 in OT

@Khris22m leads the @Bucks to Game 5 ⏩ Tue. (9/8) 6:30pm/et on TNT https://t.co/2lzSmg6KlL

Jeff Zillgitt @JeffZillgitt

After Giannis Antetokounmpo left the game with an ankle injury at 10:18 of the second quarter, Khris Middleton scored 34 points on 12-for-23 shooting, 3-for-5 on 3s, 9-for-9 FTs, with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals.

Perhaps a defense geared up to slow down Antetokounmpo struggled without its focal point. Perhaps Miami simply lost its focus, period.

Andy Brassell @andybrassell

The effect that Giannis leaving the game had on the Heat was extraordinary, really. Seemed to really throw them off-kilter, chiming with what Jimmy Butler had to say post-game.

“We didn’t have the mentality just to take the win,” Heat forward Jae Crowder said. “I don’t know if Giannis going out was a dictative factor for us, but we just didn’t have the same mentality.”

Game 5 is Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.