How Jimmy Butler and LeBron James Saved the Miami Heat Against the Celtics When It All Looked Over

Published 05/28/2022, 1:12 AM EDT
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dribbles while defended by Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) during the third quarter of game three of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Boston, the Miami Heat were on the brink of elimination. Down 3-2 against the Celtics, the Heat were in need of someone to step up and take charge. Likewise, like he had done all playoffs long, Jimmy Butler took over in Game 6 and gave the fans a career night. He kept Miami’s playoff journey alive as they now prepare for a Game 7 at home. However, this isn’t the first time a Heat player has produced magic against Boston.

Back in 2012, the Miami Heat was the hot topic in the NBA. Fresh off from forming a Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, there were mountains of expectations on them. But in 2011, they surprisingly lost in the NBA finals against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

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Furthermore, in 2012, they came face to face with the Boston Celtics. Going up against a superteam, LeBron went into god mode and took over to take the Heat to a Game 7 and eventually win a title that year.

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So how did Butler and LeBron’s heroics fair out?

Jimmy Butler replicates LeBron James’ iconic Game 6 against Celtics

The Miami Heat have added some great players put on their jerseys over the years. However, not everyone can make a mark like Dwyane Wade or LeBron, or now, a Jimmy Butler. Initially, there weren’t many expectations when Butler came to Miami. However, in 2020, he took them to the NBA finals and solidified his status as a Heat player. And tonight, he put on a masterclass in the TD Garden living up to the Vice City’s never give up motto.

But before the game, Butler was the face of scrutiny. After a barrage of bad games, NBA analysts were furious with him. Some even said he has never been a superstar and often fails in these moments. Averaging single digits in the last three playoff games, the pressure was mounting up. But Butler cut out all the noise and had his sights set on a Game 7.

Hence, he went out there and gave it his all to make sure the Heat head home to prepare for another game. Butler dropped 47 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals in the 111-103 win over the Celtics. With a shot at making another NBA finals, ‘Jimmy Buckets’ is ready to prove the doubters wrong once again.

On the other hand, LeBron had the pressure of the entire NBA community on his shoulders. Yet to win a title at this point, the King had one of his worst playoff series against the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA finals. Analysts and other NBA personnel thought LeBron will never be able to deliver in the big moments. However, the King was ready to flip the script in 2012.

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Down 3-2 and the chance at the final slipping away, LeBron James decided to solely take over the game. He torched the ‘Big 4’ Celtics, scoring 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists to take Miami to a Game 7. They went on to win the series and the finals with ‘King James’ coming out as the Finals MVP.

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While there is still a huge task ahead of him, Butler is back in his groove. The Heat has one of the best crowds in the entire NBA, and all the fans in the FTX arena will have their hopes in Jimmy. With the big moment on him, Butler is not going to run the opposite way. Coming in head-on, Miami will go in with an intention to dominate at home.

If Butler brings a championship to Miami, should he be considered one of the best players in Heat franchise history? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

1727 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

Edited By: Arunaditya Aima

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