The Heat had the Celtics on their heels after scoring nine unanswered points late in the fourth quarter to pull within two points (98-96). With 16.6 seconds left in the game and the Celtics’ Al Horford back on his heels, Butler appeared to have a lane to the hoop. But instead of trying to tie the game, he pulled up for a 3-pointer. The ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of Horford. After getting fouled, the Celtics’ Marcus Smart hit two free throws, putting Boston up 100-96, which would be the final score.
“My thought process was go for the win, which I did,” Butler told reporters. “Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”
Not everyone was a fan of that mentality in such a huge spot.
“That’s the worst three-point shot attempt in Miami Heat playoff history,” one fan tweeted.
While Butler doesn’t make his living from behind the arc — shooting just over 23% this season from deep — he earned the right to take that shot with his stellar play in the postseason. With the game on the line, there’s no one else Miami would have rather had taking that shot.
Butler Said He Has to Be Better for Heat
Butler averaged 25.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists during the playoffs, adding a pair of steals per game. Still, Butler said he was not satisfied with his performance, saying he needed to be even better.
“Not good enough,” Butler said. “I didn’t do my job. Stats don’t mean anything, as I say over and over again. The Boston Celtics did what they came out here to do in this series. I learned that I have to be better, and I will be better.
“Get back to the lab and have an opportunity to work out with these guys over the summer, and we’ll come back better than ever.”
His coach, Erik Spoelstra, had a more glowing review of the display Butler put on.
“It’s one of the great performances of an elite competitor,” he said. “He’s a world-class competitor and he knows how to win basketball games. That’s a talent. And for young players coming into the league, I think that’s a missing talent or skill. It becomes about all the other skills. But that’s what makes Jimmy so unique as a world-class player. He just knows how to compete to win and to compete to not let you lose. That’s an incredible DNA that he has inside of him.”
Butler Has High Praise for Jayson Tatum Following Loss
Butler, who was humble in defeat, had some mighty praise for Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who won the Eastern Conference Finals MVP.
“He does everything: shoot the ball, play in the pick-and-roll, he passes the ball incredibly well, gets out in transition,” Butler said. “He’s a superstar, and he deserved that. They deserve the win. I wish them the best moving forward. He’s one hell of a player, that’s for damn sure.”
On the court, Butler also had a personal message for Tatum, saying, “Always, my dawg. That’s your title dawg. Congrats on the win. You deserve this s***. Love, bro.”
The Celtics advance to take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Celtics are seeking their first title since 2008. The Warriors are the slight favorite to win the series, coming in at -160.