NBA Finals Game 5: Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler Offers Harsh Assessment

Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat is ready for Game 5 of the NBA Finals vs. the Denver Nuggets.

Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat is ready for Game 5 of the NBA Finals vs. the Denver Nuggets.

Win, lose or draw, it is tempting to look at the Heat’s presence in these NBA Finals has a major victory for a team that barely earned a spot in the postseason at all. Miami, of course, lost its first play-in game to Atlanta and trailed for most of its second play-in against the Bulls before pulling out the win and securing the No. 8 seed.

Then came the shocking first-round upset over the Bucks, and the grinding conference semifinal win over the Knicks. That was followed by a wild seven-game victory over the heavily favored Celtics, the No. 2 seed in the conference and possessors of the second-best record in the league.

Down, 3-1, heading back to Denver in this series, an NBA championship looks like a longshot. Certainly, even without a trophy, the Heat can take some pride in what they’ve done to this point.

Hmm, don’t tell that to Jimmy Butler. Asked if there was some appreciation for what the team has done to get to this point, Butler said, “Not at all.”

Jimmy Butler: ‘It’s About Holding That Trophy’

Given Butler’s almost maniacal focus on a championship, maybe that response is not all that surprising. The Heat have 13 wins in this postseason, the most ever for a No. 8 seed. Butler, too, has been especially impressive, with 571 points in the playoffs, the fourth-most ever by a Heat player, behind only LeBron James (twice) and Dwyane Wade.

Butler has had one of the biggest improvements in the league from the regular season to the playoffs, going from 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists to 27.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists. But Butler is not impressed with all this unless there is a Larry O’Brien trophy as part of the package.

“At the beginning of this year, we talked about winning a championship, competing to get to this point. So that’s always the goal,” Butler said on Sunday. “It’s always a goal with the Heat. It’s about winning. It’s not about individual anything. It’s about holding that trophy collectively as a unit, to be the best team.

“That’s where we’re at. All the odds, 8 seed, dadadadada, nah, none of that matters. It’s just two really good basketball teams. One has to get one win, and one has to get three. Let’s just hope that the other that has to get three, gets three.”

Game 5 of 2020 Finals Has No Bearing on Butler

During his meeting with the media on Sunday in Denver, Butler’s Game 5 performance in the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers, when he scored 35 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists, was referenced. That came with the Heat down, 3-1, and Butler’s output helped keep Miami alive before losing in Game 6.

Maintaining his focus, Butler shrugged off the notion that he could draw anything from that game.

“Absolutely nothing. I think I was a different player then,” Butler said. ”The team looked a lot different then. I don’t even think about it. I think the group of guys that we have now, if that’s what the game says you need to do, then maybe that’s what happens.

“But I honestly don’t think about 2020, 2021, none of that. We’re in this time right now. So I have to be the best version of myself now, along with everybody else on this roster.”

Read More