Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was still irked with Payton Pritchard for his “infamous” knee-grabbing foul on Jimmy Butler. As a result of which, he called it “Not a Basketball Play”.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals went into the books and is also considered one of the most physical encounters ever between two teams. It certainly had many players going in and coming out of the locker room with some medical attention. Marcus Smart and Jason Tatum did it for Boston Celtics as they took a knock into the game, but the Miami Heat team was not lucky with the availability of Jimmy Butler. He went to the Locker room at halftime and never returned to the game. Though it was “knee inflammation” as reported by the Heat authorities, many connected it with the foul committed by Payton Pritchard on Butler.
The Miami Heat survived against the Boston Celtics in a 109-103 win to go up 2-1 in the series. Butler did play in Game 4. However, some concerns have been raised regarding the play that may have caused this injury. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also seemed angry, as he slammed Payton for the play in a pre-game interview.
Erik Spoelstra lashed out at Payton Pritchard for a ‘dirty foul’ on Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler was leading visiting Miami with effective offensive plays and midway in the game 3 Celtics point guard, Payton Pritchard was seen tripping Butler. This was the same knee that kept Butler out of the remainder of the matchup. Pritchard was issued a common foul for the play, but “lengthy contact” was close enough for a flagrant foul.
On one similar kind of foul, in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, Jordan Poole was actually trying to play for the basketball and just accidentally contacted Ja Morant’s knee. Many labeled it as very dirty game-play, but it had some benefit of the doubt and the contact duration was certainly shorter. Pritchard’s move is harder to justify, as he is seen intentionally trying to trip Butler, rather than attempting to get up and defend.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke to reporters about this issue at TD Garden. “It could have had an effect,” Spoelstra said. “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. We are not begging”
Spoelstra further rules out a request for any sort of action on Pritchard and considers focusing on the game more than outer objectives. Incidents like these need to have some specific rules to protect the player from career-ending injuries or even affecting game scenarios. We just hope that the league will come up with something concrete to keep a check on such nuisance game-plays.