NBA Playoffs Update: Jimmy Butler Wills the Heat to Victory and a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals

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NBA Playoffs Update: Jimmy Butler Wills the Heat to Victory and a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals

Chicago Bulls

We were finally treated to a good game in this Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals. It wasn’t only good; it was as Kyle Lowry called Jimmy Butler’s performance on Friday night; it was “Fu***** incredible!”

Heat 111, Celtics 103

Series: TIED 3-3

Just when you thought that Jimmy Butler had run out of steam, Playoff Jimmy makes another appearance and saves the Miami Heat’s season for at least one more game. Butler was missing in action for the last three games, averaging 9.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 25 percent shooting while only averaging two trips to the charity stripe as Miami lost two-of-three and lost control of the series to Boston.

Butler said tonight on ESPN that he received a phone call and a text message from Heat legend Dwyane Wade before the game telling Butler that he can keep the Heat alive, and Butler said that message meant the world to him.

“I got a phone call and text message from D-Wade earlier today, and he was telling me I can do this,” Butler said. “[The] Knee is banged up, but nobody cares. Go out there and continue to build your legacy. That meant the world to me, so I appreciate you, D-Wade.”

Butler lived up to Wade’s estimation exploding for 47 points, and narrowly missed a triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists. Butler 55 percent (16-of-29) from the floor and a surprising 50 percent (4-of-8) from three-point range. Butler made his way to the free-throw line 11 times and nailed all 11 of them, a welcomed return for a vital part of his game that had been missing the last three games.

Was Butler’s nail in the coffin shot with 43.9 seconds remaining that gave the Heat a 107-101 lead, or even his career playoff-best 47 points due to Dwyane Wade’s well-wishes? Probably not. Butler has a track record of throwing his teams on his back in the NBA Playoffs. The Playoff Jimmy nickname didn’t originate tonight, after all. But it sure helped make for a fun storyline tonight.

The Heat needed every minute of Jimmy Butler tonight, with Butler playing a whopping 46 minutes, a feat that Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra called “Chicago Bulls kind of minutes,” a jab at former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. As for what Spoelstra thought about his superstar’s performance: “He just has a flair for the moment,” Spoelstra said. “He’s one of the all-time clutch players in this league. He just knows how to manage a game.”

Spoelstra also said that this series was meant to go seven games.

“Look, we’re here. This is the way it should be with these two teams. It should have gone seven games. The margin for error on both sides is so small. There are no two better words in pro sports than ‘Game seven.’ ”

Butler wasn’t alone in helping the Heat extend their season on Friday night. After going a combined 1-for-28 in the previous two games, Max Strus and Kyle Lowry turned in strong performances, with Lowry recording an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double while Strus added 13 points.

Whether or not Butler has another instant classic performance up his sleeve remains to be seen, but this series will come down to a win or go home Game 7 on Sunday night with Miami trying to surprise the Celtics again.

Here are the highlights from last night’s Miami victory courtesy of NBA.com’s YouTube channel:



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.