Losing Game 7 on Miami Heat's home floor last year pushed Jimmy Butler to declare that he will get the job done this season. He did just that after Miami avenged their loss with a Game 7 destruction of the Celtics on the Celtics’ home court on Monday night.
Butler had this to say when asked about his promise last year:
“I have so much belief in myself and this group of guys, in the squad that coach Pat [Riley] and Spo [Spoelstra] and everybody else put together. I see it every single day. I know how good of a team we are and we made it happen.”
Last year, the Miami Heat were the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference. They had to do it the hardest way possible this year as they had to go through the play-in tournament to enter the playoffs. Miami lost to Atlanta before rallying to beat the Chicago Bulls to grab the eighth seed.
Perhaps only the Heat organization believed they had a chance against a stacked Milwaukee Bucks team, owners of the best record in the entire NBA. Despite losing Tyler Herro in Game 1 to a broken right hand, they still eliminated Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team in just five games.
Once the Heat beat the Bucks, anything was possible. They took down the New York Knicks next in six games before nearly running away with the Eastern Conference crown against the Boston Celtics.
In each round of the playoffs, Jimmy Butler made his mark. He dropped 56 and 42 points respectively in Games 4 and 5 against the Bucks. Despite playing with a sprained ankle, “Jimmy Buckets” led the Heat again against their old rival, the Knicks.
The ECF saw Miami take on a familiar foe. They faced the Boston Celtics for the third time in four years to decide the conference’s representative in the NBA Finals. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the talented Celtics were standing in Butler’s way of fulfilling his vow.
In Game 6, Jimmy Butler struggled until the last three minutes where he scored 11 of Miami’s last 13 points. Only a Derrick White miracle shot saved the Celtics from elimination.
Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat couldn’t be denied by the Boston Celtics in Game 7
Game 7 started in the worst possible way for the Boston Celtics. Jayson Tatum stepped on Gabe Vincent’s foot and took down with him Boston’s chances of winning the game.
With Tatum grimacing in pain almost every time he had to sprint or jump, the Celtics had no one to take over the cudgels. Jaylen Brown, who had a so-so series, couldn’t carry the dethroned East champs. Brown had 19 points, 8 rebounds and five assists but had eight turnovers.
“JB’s” turnovers were more than half of what the Celtics (15) had as a team. Those miscues were crucial every time Boston tried to mount a rally in the fourth quarter.
Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, was steady all game long for the Miami Heat. He played 43 minutes and finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
The Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP Trophy was a fitting reward for everything Jimmy Butler did in the entire playoffs. They now have their eyes set on the NBA Finals where the Denver Nuggets have been waiting for them for a week.