Heat coach Erik Spoelstra emphasized the value Jimmy G. Buckets brings to the team while displaying winning basketball:
“That’s just elite two-way basketball that he exhibited tonight (Tuesday). He was doing it on both ends.I thought he was assertive, I thought he was making quick decisions, and we really needed that in the second half.”
Spoelstra compared Butler to Heat legend Dwayne Wade in terms of how Butler is able to propel his performances up a notch in playoff time.
Butler scored 45 points on 15-for-25 shooting (4-for-7 from 3-point range) with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and no turnovers on Tuesday night. That effort led Miami to a 115-105 win and a 2-0 first-round series lead over the Atlanta Hawks.
When asked about turning the game over to Butler when he's hot, the veteran coach said:
"It's kind of unsaid. Just get the ball to JB."
Jimmy Butler and the Heat: perfect compatability
On July 6, 2019, Butler signed with the Miami Heat via a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in a four-team trade. Butler, now a six-time All-Star, was eager to link up with the South Beach franchise.
Butler led Heat reached the 2020 NBA Finals in the bubble before falling to the LA Lakers in six games.
This decision-making from Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley and the front office may very have laid the foundation for the Heat's success for the decade to come.
NBA playoffs: Miami Heat favorites?
The Miami Heat finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference (53-29).
Miami has a 2-0 series lead over the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks as the first-round matchup heads to Atlanta for games on Friday and Sunday. Miami won 115-91 in Game 1 on Sunday and 115-105 in Game 2 on Tuesday, powered by Jimmy Butler's 45 points.
Provided Butler can keep performing at an elite level, Miami might just run riot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat have the tenacity, aggression and intensity to make their championship aspirations come true.