Where Does Butler’s Finals Performance Rank All-Time?


Entering the 2020 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat were riding highs with sensational postseasons from Goran Dragic (20.9 PPG) and Bam Adebayo (18.5 PPG). After Game 1, they both went down with injuries. To go toe-to-toe with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler was going to have to step up dramatically and take over for the Heat to have a chance at the ring.

The Situation

Adebayo departed Game 1 with 7:03 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He strained a muscle in the left side of his neck and would proceed to miss Games 2 and 3 of the series. When he returned, he was a mere shell of himself. Bam would decline in each statistical category.

Dragic, meanwhile, suffered a tear of the left plantar fascia with about nine minutes left in the 2nd quarter of Game 1. The Slovenian point guard would return in Game 6, but was also a shell of himself. Miami’s leading playoff scorer would only log 34 total minutes in the Finals.

After Game 1, Butler’s supporting cast became a lot different. For Games 2 & 3, the starting lineup surrounded Butler with Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard, Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder. Leonard and Herro hadn’t previously started a game during the playoff run. Frankly, the Heat could have very well been swept, but Jimmy G. Buckets wasn’t going to let that happen.

The Performance

Despite the loss, Jimmy’s Finals performance ranks near the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. What makes it such an amazing performance is that Miami’s previous success was attributed to a committee effort– anyone can be the tone-setter on any given night.

In short, Butler wasn’t seen as a superstar. The Marquette product put that narrative to sleep, as he averaged 26.2 points, 9.8 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

The 6’6 forward had two of the best Finals games of all-time in the Heat’s two wins. With their backs against the wall, he posted a 40-point triple double in Game 3’s win. In a win-or-go-home Game 5, Butler elevated Miami to victory with a 35-point triple double. To make it even more impressive, Butler was primarily guarded by LeBron and DPOY runner-up Davis.

When guarded by Davis, Butler had 34 points on 13/27 shooting, just under 50% on a DPOY candidate. He also drew six shooting fouls which led to nine free throw attempts, where he made 8. When guarded by LeBron, Butler shot 8/12 for 22 points while drawing three shooting fouls.

Comparison to the Greats

When compared to legendary performances, it’s easy to see how truly dominant Butler was. Omitting the names of these players truly manifests how dominant Butler was in these six games vs. LA.

  • Player A: 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.6 SPG. 49.4 FG%, 37.1 3PT%, 72.1 FT%
  • Player B: 28.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.1 SPG. 40% FG, 31.9% 3PT, 88.3% FT
  • Player C: 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG. 41.5 FG%, 31.6 3PT%, 83.6 FT%
  • Player D: 26.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 9.8 APG, 2.2 SPG. 55.2 FG%, 30.8 3PT%, 88.7 FT%

Player A is LeBron (2016), Player B is Kobe (2010), Player C is MJ (1996), and Player D is Jimmy’s line this year. While all four posted phenomenal lines, Butler is the only one to lose his series. Butler was the most efficient of the group, shooting 55.2% from the field and 88.7% from the line.

Butler is already fourth in Finals triple-doubles with two in just six games. He is tied with legends like Larry Bird (31 career Finals games) and one behind Draymond Green (28 career Finals games). He was one assist shy of another triple double in Game 4 and two rebounds away from another one in Game 2. Butler could easily be third in Finals triple doubles in just six games.

Butler is one of only three players to have a 40-point triple double in the NBA Finals. The other two are LeBron (2015) and Jerry West (1969). He is also the second player ever to have multiple 30+ point triple doubles in a Finals series, with the first being LeBron (again). On top of that, Jimmy joins LeBron as the only players to lead their team in PTS/REB/AST/STL/BLK for an NBA Finals series.

Jimmy Butler’s Finals performance, though it ultimately resulted in a loss, is one of the greatest all time. In every game, the Heat were the underdogs and against all odds, Butler led the Heat to two wins with a decimated team.

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

About Blake Malick

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com