Jimmy Butler's production has suddenly fallen off and the Miami Heat are dealing with the consequences. He has had back-to-back single digit scoring games and the Heat are now tied 2-2 in the NBA Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.
He is the heart and soul of the team, and they go as he goes. His energy and production fuels the Heat on both ends. Hence, watching Jimmy Butler not play his best is certainly excruciating for Heat Nation.
Skip Bayless is still not convinced that the Miami Heat are done. He believes in Jimmy Butler and his playoff production and insisted that the last two games have been outliers. On the popular sports debate show "Undisputed," Skip Bayless said:
"I have no idea what's going on with Jimmy Butler? Is it internal or is it internal just in his knees?... I don't know what's wrong with him, but something for the last two games has been very wrong with Jimmy Buckets, Playoff Jimmy.
"I'm demoralized watching him not play. Because he plays but he doesn't play. You wanna talk about timid? You wanna talk about lack of aggression? I can't even recognize Jimmy Butler in the last game and a half."
Jimmy Butler dropped eight points in Game 3 and then six points in Game 4. His low numbers aren't due to inefficient scoring, but rather passive play.
In those two road games in Boston, he played less than 30 minutes in each and also had just three assists combined. He attempted an average of 11 shots per game and was, in fact, -30 in Game 4 with zero blocks and steals.
In the first round against the Atlanta Hawks, Butler averaged 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game along with a league-best 2.8 steals. He shot 54/43/79 from the field and turned the ball over just 1.3 times a night.
In the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, his production dropped a little, but was still All-Star-worthy. He averaged 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game on 51/32/81 shooting splits.
Butler has dropped six 30-point games and three 40-point games in the postseason. Hence, his consecutive single-digit nights were certainly alarming.
However, Skip Bayless believes that Jimmy Butler will power through and win the home game in Game 5.
Skip Bayless credits Pat Riley and the Heat Culture, picks Miami to win the series
Skip Bayless is not yet sold on the Boston Celtics and believes the Miami Heat's culture will help them win the Eastern Conference finals. He credited Hall of Fame coach and executive Pat Riley for building the culture and instilling a strong mentality in all the players.
Skip Bayless continued on the show:
"Everybody is underestimating the Heat culture. It's the Pat Riley memorial, grits and guts culture that he has instilled, he has installed in these players.
"This team has a strong backbone. This team will come out and play as physical a basketball game as you have seen in the playoffs tonight.
"I am predicting right here, right now, this will be a football game. This will be a do-or-die football game because the Heat know they just virtually have to win this one because they don't wanna have to go back to Boston to try to survive."
Skip Bayless went on to laud the Miami Heat's toughness and their gritty attitude, suggesting they have to tune in to that mentality for Game 5 or else they'll be out of the series soon enough. He continued:
"This is where you re-assert yourself. You regain and re-seize control of the series with your physicality, with your mental and physical toughness that I believe is deeper than the Celtics' mental and physical toughness."
The series is now tied 2-2 and has been reduced to a best-of-three series. The Heat have two home games remaining, so they have a strong chance against the Celtics.
Poll : How will this series progress?
Celtics win Game 5 and close it out in Boston in Game 6
Heat win in Game 7