The Miami Heat came within one game of making it to the NBA Finals, in large part due to the superstar performance of Jimmy Butler. On Friday, June 10, nearly two weeks after the Heat’s heartbreaking 100-96 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Butler shared a retrospective message on the past season.
The 32-year-old wing shared his thoughts through a haiku, a series of photos of himself and his teammates, and closed the Instagram post with a video of his controversial final three-shot attempt in Game 7, which sealed the Celtics’ win.
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Butler captioned the post in the classic seventeen-syllable form, in lines of seven-five-seven: “Through the ups and downs, one seeded and no finals, bye, year eleven!”
The six-time All-Star is only saying goodbye to the 2021-22 NBA season. He signed a four-year, $184 million max extension last summer and will continue to on as the leader of the team. As for his final three-point shot, which Butler took instead of trying to tie the game while the Heat were down two points with 16.6 seconds left on the clock, Butler has no regrets.
“I’d take that shot again… My thought process was go for the win, which I did,” Butler told reporters during the postgame press conference on May 29.. “Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”
Butler earned the right to make that final shot, especially after putting an astonishing 47 points in Game 6 to keep the Heat’s playoff season alive. Throughout the postseason, Butler averaged 25.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.
Sports Illustrated Dubbed Butler the No. 1 Player of the Postseason
The honor ultimately went to Celtics star Jayson Tatum, but Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro wrote, “Butler deserved the Larry Bird Trophy for the Eastern Conference Finals MVP.”
Assessing every player who participated in the playoffs up to the start of the NBA Finals, Shapiro ranked Butler as the No. 1 standout performer, calling what he did one of the “most memorable postseasons of the last decade.”
He turned in a tour-de-force playoff performance just as he did in 2020, this time taking an outmatched squad to the brink of the NBA Finals. Butler dropped 35-point performances six times, including his Game 1, Game 6 and Game 7 scoring outbursts against Boston. He’s now approaching his age-33 season, with significant tread on his NBA tires (thanks, Thibs). But at this point, would anyone bet against Butler carrying Miami back to the conference finals in 2023?
As for the final missed shot, “I understand the impulse to live with whatever attempt Butler wants in the final seconds, his decision to pull up from three is tough to swallow under further scrutiny,” Shapiro noted.
“Butler was 7-for-24 from three during this series and a ghastly 23.3% this season. That number gets worse if we sort by above-the-break threes. Butler is a master at getting to the line, and while Al Horford is a nimble defender, it’s hard to see a situation where Butler doesn’t convert a layup, draw a foul or both.”
However, Heat captain Udonis Haslem had no issues with Butler’s three-point attempt. “That’s what great players do. You go for the win, you go for the kill,” he said said. Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra is good with it, too.
“As it was leaving his hand, I thought for sure it was going down,” Spoelstra said. “I thought it would’ve been an incredible storyline, Jimmy pulling up and hitting that three.”
Butler Vowed to Come Back ‘Better Than Ever Next Year’
While Butler sticks by his three-point attempt, he was his toughest critic following the Heat’s playoff exit. “Not good enough,” he said following Game 7. “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.”