Jimmy Butler’s historic performance saves the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals
The Miami Heat found themselves in a must-win situation down 2-0 in the NBA Finals and knew they had to pull off a victory to prevent going into a 3-0 hole entering Game 3. Their predicament appeared to be hopeless at times as they have struggled throughout this series so far and it only made matters worse with Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic out due to injuries as the Heat have sorely missed their presence, but thankfully the Heat have Jimmy Butler.
No Adebayo, no Dragic, no problem. The Heat pulled out a much-needed win and basically saved their season defeating the Lakers 115-104 as Butler had one of the most impressive performances of his career.
Butler is built to thrive in this pressure-packed environment that has swallowed other players whole as he is prepared and built for this very moment. This is the reason the Heat signed him in the offseason.
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They know exactly what they were getting in Butler; a relentless leader who they can trust with the game on the line, a player who exudes confidence and won’t shy away from big moments and a player with the spirit of an ultimate competitor who is going to give the team his all without question.
The Heat’s investment is paying off as Butler continues to be successful in these playoffs. He played 45 minutes in Game 3 while showing the focus and energy to get his team back in the series. The Heat snapped their five-game losing streak in the Finals as Butler put up 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists while leading both teams in all three categories becoming the third player in NBA Finals history to accomplish that feat joining LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal.
Butler also became one of three players to record a 40-point triple-double in an NBA Finals game as Butler’s performance was reminiscent of Dwyane Wade in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
Similarly, Wade and the Heat found themselves in a 2-0 deficit also when he took the initiative to take control of his team’s destiny and never looked back as he dropped 42 points in Game 3 and carried the Heat to four wins in a row winning the franchise’s first title. It will be a tough task for Butler and company to win four straight against this Lakers squad, but if any player is capable of pulling off the impossible, it’s Jimmy Buckets.
Throughout the course of Game 3, Butler was able to isolate on smaller players on switches and pick and rolls allowing him to take advantage and bringing it to whoever was guarding him as he played through contact getting to the foul line often making 12 of his 14 attempts at an 86 percent clip.
It also helped that Jae Crowder, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Kelly Olynyk helped to create space and opened up the floor with their shooting ability as they connected on a combined 10 3-pointers. The Heat outscored the Lakers 26-13 in the final 8:56 while they held Anthony Davis and LeBron James to 40 points combined.
Butler also took the initiative and responsibility of guarding James while carrying the load offensively, and if he continues to play as he did in Game 3, then the Lakers will be the ones in trouble as the Heat could take the momentum especially if Adebayo can suit up for Game 4 giving his team that physical element in the frontcourt while asserting his presence on the defensive end.
The Heat will need Butler to remain aggressive and to continue to set the tone doing the same things that made him successful in Game 3. Teams that were down 2-1 in the NBA Finals have an 11-48 record, and even though history is not on the Heat’s side, Jimmy Buckets is, giving the Heat a great opportunity to make history.