Not many people gave the Miami Heat a fighting chance after going down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, but Jimmy Butler has never cared what people think.
Butler put the team on his back and willed the Heat to a Game 3 victory Sunday night with 40 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds. After a layup that iced the game in the fourth quarter, he went right up to LeBron James and sent him a message that must’ve sent shivers down his spine. Butler and the Heat aren’t going down without a fight.
Jimmy Butler’s triple-double led the Heat to a Game 3 win
After Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic both went out with injuries in Game 1, the Heat looked to be in danger of getting swept in the NBA Finals. Adebayo and Dragic both missed Game 2 and Game 3, so Butler knew he had to go superhuman to avoid going down 3-0 in the series.
That’s exactly what he did.
Butler exploded for 40 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in the biggest game of his life. He was the best player on the floor the entire night, and his heroic effort led to a 115-104 win in Game 3.
No one else on the Heat had more than 17 points on Sunday night. Butler almost single-handedly got Miami back in the series.
Butler saved the Heat’s season with his best NBA performance to date
Butler knew Sunday night was a must-win game for the Heat, and he took his game to the next level to give Miami a shot in the NBA Finals. No team has ever come back from 3-0 to win an NBA playoff series, so a loss Sunday night would’ve all but ended Miami’s season.
In a historic effort, Butler outplayed both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in every possible way to lead the Heat to their first win in the NBA Finals. A few days ago, it looked as if the Lakers were going to coast to a championship, but that won’t be the case.
Adebayo and Dragic both have a chance to return later in the series, so the Heat’s win on Sunday was crucial to give them more time to heal from their injuries. If even one can return by Game 5, the entire series could change.
Butler sent a stern message to LeBron James after the win
After the Lakers ended the first quarter on a 13-4 run, James looked right at Butler and said “you’re in trouble.” Now, Butler isn’t going to let anyone punk him — not even the greatest player of this generation. So, he let his play do the talking, and after the Heat had it wrapped up, Butler decided to take a jab back at the king.
After a dagger layup that sealed the game in the fourth quarter, Butler found James as he walked back to the bench. “You’re in trouble,” Butler said.
“First of all, we’re not going to act like I’m just out here talking trash because I’m not,” Butler said after the game. “LeBron said it to me at the end of the first. That’s what happened. I just said it to him in the fourth quarter.”
James poked the bear with his cocky comment at the end of the first quarter, and it fueled Butler to the greatest playoff performance of his career.