The No. 8 seed Heat continued it’s plucky playoff run, winning Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics, 123-116.
Butler finished with a game-high 35 points against the Celtics, going 12-of-25 from the field (stats via Basketball Reference). He also to handed out seven assists, nabbed six steals and snagged 5.0 rebounds — numbers that have put him in elite company.
After the Game 1 upset over Boston, several players reacted to Butler’s performance, including Young, who tweeted Butler was playing “at a different level.”
Trae Young Has Been Rumored Trade Target for Heat
Young, who was selected fifth overall in the 2018 draft, has been the subject of trade rumors since last season, when multiple NBA insiders revealed the 24-year-old point guard and his current team, the Atlanta Hawks, could be on the road to parting ways.
“With the offseason approaching, league sources say the Hawks’ front office has the green light from ownership to do whatever it wants to with the roster, which includes considering trade opportunities involving All-Star point guard Trae Young,” Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported on April 10.
Another NBA insider, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, wrote in December of 2022 that “Trae Young could be the next player on a rookie max extension to request a trade if the team doesn’t make inroads come postseason time.”
Considering the Heat could use a young point guard to serve as court general for years to come, Young’s name has come up as a trade possibility for them this offseason.
Naturally, when Young gave “Playoff Jimmy” a nod, some Heat fans began recruiting the current Hawks guard to South Beach.
Young just completed his fifth season in Atlanta, where he averaged 26.2 points and a career-high 10.2 assists. Time will tell whether he enters the trade market, and whether or not the Heat truly have any interest.
Butler Has Been Historic in Playoffs
The Heat have a 9-3 record since the playoffs began, and they largely have one player to thank for that. Butler has been on a tear since the Heat entered the postseason courtesy of a play-in win over the Chicago Bulls. He scored 56 points in Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, which is tied the fourth-most points in a playoff game in NBA history.
He also scored 35 points, had 11 assists, 5.8 boards and three steals in Game 1 against the Bucks. He averaged over 37 points a game in that series and was a big reason Miami advanced against the 5th seeded New York Knicks in the semifinals.
Butler has amassed eight games in which he has scored 40 or more points in the playoffs for Miami — a franchise record. His performance so far through 12 playoff games has been historic.
The veteran forward has been more than a scoring machine, often leading Miami in assists and steals, as he did in the team’s Game 1 win in Boston. Butler has never won an NBA championship and the desire for a ring is clearly there. We’ll see if he and the Heat can ride this current wave all the way into the finals.