Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla still has healthy respect for Heat despite Jimmy Butler's absence

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Play-In Tournament
Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Play-In Tournament / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Joe Mazzulla still has a healthy respect for the Miami Heat despite Jimmy Butler likely missing the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Boston Celtics with a knee injury; revealing as much ahead of a Game 1 at the TD Garden the Cs are favored in by double digits.

"They obviously play a little bit more shooting, so they have different identities that they can go to," Mazzulla said (h/t Inside The Celtics). "And then, anytime someone's out, other guys are going to take on the responsibility of playing, so their DNA is still the same – their team might look a little bit different, but their DNA is still the same."

Despite astronomical underdog odds to pull off what'd be the greatest playoff upset ever, Miami has several different weapons that can give the Celtics defense fits. Team USA backup center Bam Adebayo is the most obvious candidate to exploit Boston's few weaknesses, but would anybody really be surprised by a 3-point outburst from Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, or Caleb Martin? And how about Jamie Jaquez Jr.? The UCLA product feels likely to have at least one 20-point outburst in his postseason debut.

Boston Celtics must exploit Heat's defense with numerous mismatches

Without Butler, Jayson Tatum could end up having Adebayo matched up with him. Ditto for Jaylen Brown when No. 0 is on the bench. This is something Erik Spoelstra didn't even want to address following his team's NBA Play-In victory over the Chicago Bulls on April 19.

If Adebayo is forced onto the wing, Kristaps Porzingis is a candidate to feast on the block with Jaquez and Nikola Jovic having to pick up the slack. It's not a stretch to say the Latvian big can be the key to slaying the Heat demon en route to a title a la the Milwaukee Bucks' championship run in 2021.