Never bet against this guy.
“Playoff Jimmy” does not exist. I’m just playing,” says Jimmy Butler.
Let me disagree.
Miami has struggled through the NBA regular season with 44 wins and a place outside the top 6 playoff-guaranteed positions. The 33-year-old Butler was forced to play power forward often and even effectively rebuilt his game, began to value the ball and shots: fewer unstable three-pointers, more reliable hits, the lowest percentage of losses in terms of possession in his career. For the first time in 4 years with Miami, Jimmy broke the 2,000-minute mark in a season. But all this was not enough either for the team or for the personal result – Butler was not invited to the All-Star Game.
And in the playoffs, I had to break through the play-in – even here Butler did not impress for one and a half matches. In the first, the Hit lost the seventh ticket to Atlanta, went to a win-or-die meeting with Chicago. And they survived.
Was it all worth the effort if the reward is a streak against the best team in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks?
Welcome to the world
of the playoff , sorry, plain Jimmy.
The Bucks lost Giannis in the first game, and this, of course, cannot be ignored. As well as the fact that the Greek, who returned to the fourth meeting, still does not play at 100% of his abilities. But for the Heat, players generally drop out before the end of the playoffs – first Tyler Herro, now Victor Oladipo.
And Miami seemed to gnaw out only what the opponent gives them: there is a victory in the first game, which can be attributed to an underestimation from the Bucks and the effect of Giannis’s injury, but then – declassing in the second game away (138 points missed). from Holiday, Lopez, Middleton and company, -31 utility for Butler), and a victory in Miami against an opponent who still does not have Antetokounmpo.
In Game 4, the Bucks favorites, having adapted to the away rings and brought back Greek-Frick, were required to tie the score. And already the first quarter, if you subtract Jimmy Butler’s points, ended with a score of 33:6.
It’s good that Butler’s points are not deducted, because at the beginning of the match he went one-on-five.22 points in the first 12 minutes (another three-point teammate – from his pass).
Of course, no one can play at such a pace. Jimmy sat down on the bench and reduced the speed. And still, in three quarters, he accumulated 35 points. At the start of fourth, he was getting the rest he needed, and Milwaukee had a 14-point lead, 92:78. Eight minutes before the end, Butler returned to the court at minus-11.
The last five minutes of the game is a masterpiece.
In an era when it is customary to win back the gap in the account with three-pointers, Miami decided to catch up with the opponent “the old fashioned way”: pressing on defense, shooting from the middle, throwing in the aisle – preferably with fouls, the load of the opponent under the ring.
So the Heat took the lead in the decisive stretch for the first time in the match – of course, thanks to Jimmy’s points, whose dunk started both the Florida stands, and himself:
An emotional dunk (thanks to the referees for not picking on Butler hanging on the ring and not whistling an unnecessary technical one) provided the forward with his 44th point – Butler’s seventh 40-point game in Heat form. And all seven are in the playoffs (“does not exist”, well, of course)! But the end of the game was not soon, and the Bucks quickly regained the lead.
Butler continued to catch up.
Accurate free kicks (points number 45 and 46).
A sudden dribble three-pointer that put the hosts ahead again (49).
Throw with stepping back – Butler already has more than fifty (51), one minute until the end of the match, “Hit” +3,The Bucks tense up and get nervous.
Butler is not.Hit strategy in the end – just give the ball to Jimmy and wait for the collapsed Bucks to foul on him. Butler hit 5 of 6 free throws – only missed the last one, but that was 8 seconds from the end, the Heat were five points ahead, the Bucks had no timeouts left (and the miracle sniper Middleton, sent off for busting personal fouls).
Fiction from Jimmy Butler: 56 points, the first playoff fifty in Heat history. LeBron, Wade, Shaq, no one had such a game in Miami!
And in general, in the entire history of the NBA, we have seen this only from the elite.
63 points of “God in the guise of Michael Jordan” by the apt expression of Larry Bird – MJ in 1986 against Boston, an NBA playoff record.
Elgin Baylor’s 61 points is an NBA Finals record scored by a Lakers forward during the highest-scoring season in league history, 1961-62 (the same year, Wilt scored his 100 in the regular season).
Donovan Mitchell’s 57 points in the 2020 bubble will always be with a small star, because in that non-standard autumn atmosphere of empty stands, very strange individual and team feats happened.
All. Those three are the only ones who have topped Butler in the playoffs. 56 also by Wilt Chamberlain (also 1962), Charles Barkley (1994) and another Jordan game (1992).
“We knew what we were capable of, even if no one outside of this arena, outside of our roster and this organization believed in us. But everything is fine. We just want to keep doing what we know is possible,” Jimmy said after the match.
“During the first 40 minutes of this game, I was disappointed … What happened once again proves that when you have the necessary tenacity and perseverance, you can win.Well, it’s always good to have a guy like Jimmy Butler in the line-up.”, – revealed the secret of the victory of the head coach of the “Hit” Eric Spoelstra.
Today’s victory was his 99th in the playoffs (tied for sixth place with the legendary Red Auerbach). Miami needs another one, and not just for Spoelstra’s round number.
It’s just that the Heat are now 3-1, and four wins are needed to advance to the next round. And if in the next three games (in Milwaukee, in Miami, again in Milwaukee) Jimmy and his friends can win at least once, they will become only the fifth lowest-seeded team in history to advance to the conference semifinals.
And the Bucks could become the third regular season champion to be eliminated in the first round, after the 1994 Seattle and 2007 Dallas.
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