Heat

Butler’s Demoralizing Dominance Demands Respect

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Winners in 14-of-18 games, the Miami Heat are surging through the Eastern Conference standings while fighting through a grueling schedule against some of the NBA’s best.

Victories against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers and the Association’s best Utah Jazz have put the league on notice. Miami isn’t just coming back to make the playoffs, they’re here to finish what they began last season.

South Beach continues to fend through a preponderance of injuries. Goran Dragic only recently returned to the team. Avery Bradley hasn’t graced the hardwood in weeks. Tyler Herro reestablished himself as a high-level scorer only to provoke prior injuries. There is reliance on Max Strus and Gabe Vincent to engage in momentous minutes in critical games. To say things have been rough would be an absolute understatement.

The national media and NBA fans worldwide continue to count Miami out. Critics cry “They’re flukes, they need another piece, they should’ve traded for Harden, Pat Riley has gotten too complacent, Tyler Herro is overrated”.

Jimmy Butler simply couldn’t give less of a damn.

“We Will Get Back To It, I Promise You That”

Jimmy sent a breath of fresh air into the lungs of Heat fans in his return from battling Covid-19. While the bulk of fans were concerned for his well-being, he was concerned with ours. His play since hasn’t just been good, it has simply been historic.

Butler has tallied 23.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game since returning to the team. His game is elite on both ends, defending the best wing player on the opposing team every night. He’s looted the ball 2.2 times per game in February.

His passing is perhaps the most imposing aspect of his game. Jimmy demoralizes defenses with the strength and skill to pummel into the lane, draw a double team, and shovel a pass cross-court to find the open man for a three. His monumental gift to create for others inspires confidence in the team like no other player can offer.

Butler’s style of basketball may be outdated. He isn’t in love with the three or dancing on defenders on the perimeter. Butler dominates through old school hard-work. Gritty defense, punishing defenders on attacks to the paint, and living at the free-throw line. Maybe it’s a style that analytic gurus grimace, but it sure does look good when he does it.

Butler is the ultimate competitor, playing the best ball of his career. He is undoubtedly an All-Star (despite being absurdly snubbed) and should be widely recognized as a top-ten player in the league given his play over the two previous seasons– not that Jimmy cares for the accolades and the praise one bit.

“I’m Tired of Being Compared to Dwyane Wade man…. screw Dwyane Wade”

Always quick with a joke, Butler’s comparisons to Wade are nothing to sell short. After all, it was Dwyane Wade who convinced Butler to make the move to Miami. Jimmy Butler is point-blank the best player to wear a Miami uniform since Wade.

Simple as that.

Jimmy is slowly cementing his place as an all-time Miami great (in just his second season). In games against the Clippers, Warriors and Kings, Jimmy Butler recorded three-consecutive triple-doubles, becoming the only player in Heat history to accomplish this.

Yes, not even a task that Wade could do.

He only trails the great LeBron James for a franchise record in triple-doubles. LeBron recorded nine in 294 career games– Butler has seven in a mere 76.

“I wanna Beat Him, He Always Beats Me When It Matters… I Really Enjoy Going Up Against The Best”

A win to ignite all wins occurred on a Saturday night in Los Angeles.

ABC prime-time game. NBA Finals rematch.

It’s no secret Jimmy Butler relishes the big moments, particularly against the best in the game. It showed in the Heat’s 96-94 victory. Butler scored 24 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out five assists with a couple of steals.

Butler spoke to ESPN analyst Rachel Nichols prior to the game, stating “I wanna beat him. He always beats me when it matters. I really enjoy going up against the best.” You better believe he enjoys the moments following a historic NBA Finals run last year. The ultimate goal remains to get back to the biggest stage, only this time with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

“We have to start stringing together wins, against anybody”

Jimmy has Miami streaking, again. The Heat are now winners in 10 of their last 11.

A crucial win came against the premier team in the league, Utah. Butler had 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a statement win. Miami has moved all the way to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Last week marked the first time this season the Heat have climbed over the .500 mark, and they aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Forget All-Star, Butler’s name should be thrown in the MVP conversation. Carrying this group out of the mud and back into contention has somehow went under the radar around the league.

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LeBron? He beat him. The top seeded-Jazz? He dominated them. Franchise records? He’s setting those. Miami is 17-8 with Butler in the lineup, but a mere 4-10 without him.

Give Jimmy Butler his damn respect. Keep counting Miami out. They’ll be around to refute your doubts come summertime.

The only way to make that happen… is one win at a time.

Follow us on Twitter @HeatLead for the latest Heat news and insight. 

About Conor Fagan

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