Heat’s Erik Spoelstra condemns Game 3 foul by Celtics’ Payton Pritchard against Jimmy Butler – The Mercury News

Coach Erik Spoelstra lashed out Monday about inaction by Saturday night’s officiating crew regarding a seemingly reckless play by Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard against Heat forward Jimmy Butler.

While Spoelstra stopped short of accusing Pritchard of exacerbating the knee issue that kept Butler out for the second half of the Heat’s Game 3 victory at TD Garden in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, he made clear he thought the action by the Boston reserve was not a basketball play.

Pritchard was called for a foul with 6:14 to play in Saturday’s second quarter, when he grabbed Butler’s right knee, with Butler listed shortly thereafter as out due to inflammation in that knee.

“We don’t know [if that contributed],” Spoelstra said Monday of Butler’s ailment. “It could have had an effect. It was not a basketball play. We’re not really sure as to why it was determined as that was a basketball play, or that was a legal play or that was a safe play.”

Typically such plays can warrant review for a flagrant foul or other such sanction. A similar play in Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs by Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole sidelined Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for the balance of that series. Poole’s action was widely condemned as irresponsible, similarly grabbing Morant’s knee.

“We’re not going to say it’s bigger than it was, because we don’t know if that’s what triggered Jimmy’s injury,” Spoelstra said of Saturday’s play. “But, regardless, it should be two separate examples. And we don’t need it. We don’t care. The league doesn’t have to do anything. We’re not begging.”

Butler spent the ensuing days receiving treatment on the knee, before rejoining his team for Monday morning’s pregame shootaround.

Spoelstra said it wasn’t until after the fact that he recognized the extent of Pritchard’s grab of Butler’s knee, on the play the Celtics guard was beaten defensively.

“Know what, I did not see it right away,” Spoelstra said. “I didn’t see it until the staff noticed it. We don’t care. They can do whatever they want. That has nothing do with us trying to compete.”

The Heat, Spoelstra said, have not filed a complaint with the NBA.

“We’re not crying,” he said. “We’re not begging for nothing.”

Shortly after Spoelstra spoke, Heat owner Micky Arison retweeted the video of the play in question.

Paneda out

The Heat announced Monday that Jose Paneda, the voice of the team’s Spanish-radio broadcasts, had entered NBA health-and-safety protocols. He will continue to work the broadcasts remotely.

Paneda’s absence follows similar previous absences by Heat radio analyst Ruth Riley Hunter and radio host Jonathon Zaslow. Heat television analyst John Crotty also missed time this season in protocols.

All-NBA next

The league will conclude its series of award announcements Tuesday night by revealing the three 2021-22 All-NBA teams.

Butler likely stands as the Heat’s only candidate in the media balloting that concluded ahead of the playoffs.

Butler was the Heat’s lone selection last year, named to the third team, as he was in 2020, after his first season with the team.

The Heat have not had a first-team All-NBA selection since LeBron James in 2014.

Respects paid

A pair of Celtics praised the Heat’s rugged, aggressive approach ahead of Monday night’s game.

Of the Heat’s physical defensive style, veteran big man Al Horford said after the Celtics’ morning shootaround, “There’s a clear understanding that’s what they do.”

And of the Heat clogging the passing lanes, guard Derrick White said, “They do a good job of pressuring the ball, making the court look crowded.”

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