Jimmy Butler earned the right to KO in Heat-Celtics Game 7, and here are three reasons why

If you disconnected from Game 7 when the Boston Celtics were up 13 with three and a half minutes to go, you made a mistake. The Heat came back with an 11-0 run and actually had possession, down by two, with the clock off.

Even better, the ball was in the hands of Jimmy Butler, who had once again been phenomenal in Game 7 after scoring 47 in Game 6. Butler secured the rebound on a Marcus Smart mistake and pushed, and in the congestion of the Semi-transitional cross-match had Al Horford in front of him with the floor perfectly flat and no edge aid – a seemingly ideal situation to lower his head and drive for a layup, one of his pivoting paint finishes, or a foul.

But Butler didn’t. Instead, down by two, he attempted to deliver the knockout blow, pulling up for the potential winning triple with just under 17 seconds left.

If that hit had landed, Butler, depending on what the Celtics could have done on the other side with plenty of time left, was in line to engrave his legacy as one of the most important artists in the history of the world. post-season. But he didn’t go in, and now the criticisms are coming. Was it really the right shot to take in that situation?

In a vacuum, no, it probably wasn’t the best decision. Butler is not a good 3-point shooter, and is a beast that goes to the edge and ends up or suffers fouls. Once again, he looks at the space where he had to go full steam ahead against a retreating big man.

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There isn’t a single defensive foot in the paint behind Horford. Continuing downhill probably would have been the best game. There is no doubt that the statistics would suggest this. That said, he considers these three things in regards to Butler’s decision and what his thought process might have been in a split second.

1. Horford is not lazy

Early in the fourth quarter, Butler had taken a similar opportunity early in the attack to attack the circle through an open lane, and as he ran out of the bucket, Horford disputed it so fiercely that closer inspection revealed that Butler had to free himself with his arm. , for what should have been called an offensive foul, also to get the shot.

True, Horford was not the one who was supposed to stand ahead of Butler in this game, as he was on the game in question, but Horford is more than capable of moving his feet around the perimeter, and it is likely that if he stays reasonably close to where he can competing on the edge, the referees will give him plenty of leeway to defend himself aggressively at that juncture of Game 7. Was this all on Butler’s mind as he played for final possession? I do not know. But it could have been.

2. Butler must have been exhausted

Butler played the full 48 minutes in Game 7 after scoring 47 points in a win to die in Boston two days earlier. Going through Horford and finishing what was sure to be a great contact would perhaps have required more gas than Butler felt he had left in his tank.

This is also important when you consider that even if Butler had been able to finish, or draw a foul and make two free throws, that alone would have equalized the score. If Miami could then stop the next possession, Butler would have had to play at least another five minutes in extra time.

It would take 53 minutes on Butler’s knee already, and the Heat had nowhere else to turn for the attack. Could he really have summoned enough energy to carry the load even during overtime? Through that goal, ending the game with one swipe certainly had an understandable appeal.

3. Butler made the same shot in the first half

While nothing I suggested above crossed Butler’s mind as he dribbled on the pitch, and in the end he just felt good with the 3 pull-up ahead of him, there was a reason he felt good. He had made the exact same shot in the first half.

In fact, Butler is not a great 3-point shooter. But he entered Game 7 by hitting 34 percent from deep during the post-season, and had just gone 4 for 8 from 3 in Miami’s Game 6 win.

All this to say that Butler, despite only scoring four points out of 2 out of 6 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, has earned the right to stop for that shot with the possibility of sending the Heat to the finals. On Sunday he had 35 points. This equates to 82 points in the last two games of this series. At every turn, Butler refused to let the heat roll. He was the best player of this postseason. In any team. I don’t even think it’s objectionable. He felt good about the shot, he was clean looking and he had the nerve to take it. Live with your best player making that decision every time, even if hindsight will always be 20-20.

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