Jimmy Butler tore the Celtics’ offense and defense to pieces in a huge Game 1 win, 118-107, and he did it without making a single 3-point shot. He did it the Butler way, jumping passing lanes, playing lockdown perimeter defense and finding mid-range shots he sees as layups.
Butler tallied 41 points in as many minutes on a ridiculous 12-of-19 shooting from the field and 17-of-18 makes from the free throw line. He added nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, three blocks and just two turnovers as he led Miami to a total domination in the second half, besting Boston 39-14 in the third quarter alone.
Stick with me as the Butler stanning keeps flowing.
Tuesday night was Butler’s third 40-point game in 12 playoff contests this season. He became the eighth player in NBA playoff history to post 40-5-5-4 numbers, and the third player to record five or more 40-point playoff games on 60 percent or better shooting (LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal).
Yet again, this guy is proving to us how brilliant he is when the lights are at their brightest. And it shouldn’t be surprising! The Heat are the No. 1 team in the eastern conference. They were championship runner-ups two seasons ago! But here we are, writing and reading a post together about how wild his night felt.
Maybe it feels that way because we’re only weeks removed from Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra’s spat. You know, the one where Butler appeared to challenge him to fight? The two needed to be separated, but naturally, since that moment, the team’s posted a 15-6 record and holds a 1–0 conference finals lead.
Of course, the Celtics will come back. Al Horford missed Game 1 in health and safety protocols and is in danger of missing Game 2. Marcus Smart also sat out due to injury. If and when either return, the Heat will have new puzzle pieces to crack. It’s a good thing they have Butler.
The Heat are favored by four points (-4) to win Game 2, and projected to win the series at -165 (bet $165 to win $100).