The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to capture their first championship since 2010 on Friday night if they can finish off the Miami Heat in Game 5. All series long the Lakers have looked like the far superior team, and Game 4 was just the latest example of that as LeBron James steered his team down the stretch to close out a resilient Miami team. However, while the league may have champagne bottles and championship shirts on deck for Friday's possible finale, Jimmy Butler is here to say not so fast.
During post-game interviews with reporters, Butler showed no signs of defeat or a loss in confidence as his Heat team faces elimination on Friday.
"We're so comfortable with who we are and how we play that that's what we're going to go out there and do," Butler said. "And we're going to live with the end result. Obviously, we want it to be a win, but we just got to lock in on us knowing that we can control a lot of these things, but our confidence ain't going nowhere. It's going to stay high. I'm going to make sure that it stays high because it's going to have to be at an all-time high to get this next win."
Butler didn't go so far as to guarantee a Game 5 victory as he did earlier in the series, but it's clear that he's not in panic mode, because that's just not who he is. That demeanor that Butler walks around with permeates throughout the Heat roster and its coaching staff, as coach Erik Spoelstra echoed the same sentiment as his star player.
"Our guys love competition and love the challenge," Spoelstra said. "We are here for a purpose. We never expected this to be easy. We'll just rest and recover tomorrow. I think everybody could probably use that a little bit. Recalibrate, get back to work on Thursday. I know our group's going to be ready."
The Heat will have two days off before Game 5 against the Lakers, which is a break from the typical every-other-day schedule that the Finals have patterned this year. That additional day will surely go to good use, especially for All-Star big man Bam Adebayo who said after Game 4 that he's "still not 100 percent."
"I feel like, collectively, we all need two days off," Adebayo said. "It's not just me, it's not just Goran, but we all need a couple days just to readjust, realign, get some fresh air and get back to the drawing board."
The Heat are hoping to get guard Goran Dragic back for Game 5 after the veteran went down in the first half of Game 1 with what was later classified as a plantar tear in his left foot. He warmed up before Game 4, but the medical staff ultimately decided he wasn't ready to play.
Despite getting Adebayo back from a neck strain, the Heat couldn't overcome stellar performances from James, Anthony Davis and a surprise contribution from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who knocked down crucial back-to-back buckets to extend the Lakers lead late in the fourth quarter. LeBron continuously picked on Miami's weaker defenders in pick-and-rolls, and for the first three quarters of the game, the Heat shot miserably from beyond the arc, going just 6-of-25 from deep.
Butler said that the Heat will have to play "damn near perfect" to beat the Lakers, which is true if this team has any hope of extending this series past five games. The extra day of rest may help Adebayo, Dragic and others, but it still won't change the fact that Miami hasn't done a great job of containing Davis or LeBron for a better part of this series.