Ex-Heat Stars Sound Off on Jimmy Butler’s ‘Different’ Playoff Transformation

Markieff Morris Jimmy Butler Heat-Lakers

Getty Markieff Morris defends Jimmy Butler during the 2020 NBA Finals between the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat.

Make no mistake about it — the Miami Heat‘s trajectory as a franchise changed in an exponential way when team president Pat Riley was able to pluck Jimmy Butler from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019.

As good as Butler has been on the hardwood throughout his tenure, though, his playoff exploits have been the stuff of legend. Over his last two years of postseason games entering Friday’s potential clincher against the New York Knicks (a sample size of 26 games), Butler had averaged 29.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest while shooting 52.2% from the floor.

So, while Butler is adamant that “Playoff Jimmy” isn’t a thing, the statistics clearly state otherwise. And former Heat big man Markieff Morris is pushing back on Butler’s denial as well.

“Hell no! Playoff Jimmy,” Morris said during an appearance on Run Your Race of whether he was surprised by what Butler has done during the postseason. “He’s locked in. There’s a couple guys I’ve been in the playoffs [with], this would have been my
eighth straight season … You got guys that turn into different people in the
playoffs, like him and LeBron [James] stand out the most to me. It’s different.”

Ex-Heat Forward Markieff Morris Gets Real on the Concept of ‘Playoff Jimmy’

While fans and pundits alike have remarked on Butler’s ability to enter alpha mode during postseason play, Morris opined that it’s actually the Heat star’s ability to include his supporting cast and emphasize its strengths that truly sets him apart.

“Jimmy is so unselfish,” Morris said. “He hates the stamp of being one of those ‘superstar’ guys because he’s so much of a team player that when you put that stamp on guys, and [say] like, ‘Yo, he’s a superstar it’s his fault. He’s gotta take that last shot,’ He doesn’t play the game that way.

“His whole thing is like, ‘Don’t put that on me. I’m gonna play to win. I’m just a tough player.’”

Regardless of Butler’s thoughts on the matter, the results continue to speak for themselves. For his part, former Heat star Goran Dragic has experienced the “Playoff Jimmy” effect firsthand, both as one of the baller’s teammates during the Heat’s 2020 Finals run and, more recently, as an opponent when his Milwaukee Bucks were upset by Miami this season.

“You can’t stop him,” Dragic said of Butler, via the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. “He might have a bad shooting night but still produce at a high level. So I’ve played with him, I’ve seen it in person. Now I’m seeing it from a different angle.”

Warriors’ Draymond Green Has Another Theory About What Separates Butler From the Playoff Pack

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has his own ideas about why Butler is so dangerous in the playoffs. During a recent episode of his podcast, Green opined that Butler gets more out of each possession than other players in his position.

“I think one of the most underrated things in the playoffs that Jimmy Butler does is Jimmy Butler is going to make sure they get at least a decent look every possession,” Green said.

“If he has to hold the ball for 22 seconds and get it to someone with two seconds left on the shot clock, he’s going to make sure that they get a decent look. I think that’s one of Jimmy’s superpowers when it comes. Everybody’s always talking about ‘Playoff Jimmy’ and this and that. That is a huge part of it.”