The Miami Heat have the element of surprise on their side entering Game 3

The Boston Celtics don't know where the Heat will look to on a game to game basis without Jimmy Butler.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The emotions in sports are undeniable. How a team handles the ebbs and flows of any season comes down to its mentality. The Miami Heat, for instance, have a rock-solid core belief that they can beat any team regardless of who suits up that night—a next-man-up mentality. This was evident in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics, where they rallied despite missing key players and secured a victory. Their resilience was a sight to behold.

The Boston Celtics mentality? It's not so much rock-solid as it is sweet, like Starburst. These thoughts may be premature, as the series is knotted at one game a piece, but there is something about the Heat missing their best players, Jimmy Butler and point guard Terry Rozier, and beating the Celtics with their flaming-hot shooting night (23/45 from three). 

Game 2 was just one game, but this Celtics squad was supposed to handle the Butler-less Heat easily. Pundits expected the Celtics to crush the Heat with Butler playing. So why is the Heat making it a series without their bruising star?

Coaching is halfway getting your players ready for any circumstance

The element of surprise is taking shape. We know how emotions play a role in sports; with that knowledge, think about how you'd feel if your opponent was shorthanded. You'd probably approach that game lackadaisically, thinking you'd won before the contest started.

It's on the coaching staff to get those players to lock in how they would if their opponents were not shorthanded, but it's hard. Human nature kicked in, and Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and company probably undersold how good the rest of the Heat roster can be when called upon.

Erik Spoelstra will always have his troops ready for whatever the circumstances are. He repeatedly shows that you can't disregard the rest of the roster by saying they're playing shorthanded. Not only will the element of surprise keep showing its head in this series, but the ocean-size coaching gap will creep up, too.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has the talent advantage, but what good is that if you can't get these men ready to play? Under Mazzulla, the Celtics have been known as a soft, finesse team that launches a ton of threes. It's worked for the most part this year, as they won 64 games with a ridiculous +11.3 point difference. On paper, they are a much better team than the Heat, but in this rivalry, that doesn't matter.

Talent in this rivalry is only for show; grit gets it done

The Michigander in me can't help but notice the similarities between the Heat and Celtics and Michigan State and Michigan. Over the last few years, Michigan has been a heavy favorite in these matchups, and they have dominated recently when the talent gap was Texas large. However, the 2021 matchup in which MSU upset the Wolverines showed us that in these rivalry games, talent is important, but grit and will to win play as much of a role. 

The Heat and Celtics are so familiar with each other. This is their fourth time matching up in the postseason since 2020. We know them, but they don't really know us right now with Jimmy Butler out. The Celtics are facing a foreign team. It seems like it's hard for Mazzulla to focus on who he needs to key in on.

The Heat doesn't care that they're heavy underdogs or about Mazulla's strategies. Not having Butler and Rozier available isn't on their minds. They're focused on continuing to display why they were a top-five defense all season and fining their stroke from three. Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Jamie Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic, and Haywood Highsmith all hit at least three 3's vs Boston's defense in Game 2. There is a chance all of them don't get crazy hot from three, but Duncan Robinson could enter the fray and have himself a game. 

All of these names just add to Miami's element of surprise at the moment. Of course, this team is not better without Jimmy and Rozier, but those two being out will keep the Celtics guessing.