Or is it? Jimmy gets buckets.
Say it how you would like.
Jimmy Butler carried the Miami Heat when it was winning time. Butler scored 14 of his playoff career-high 40 points in the fourth quarter to help take down the Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 in Game one of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Monday night.
“I do what my coaches need me to do and what my teammates need me to do,” Butler said. “I really like to get my teammates involved. I feel like we all did a great job of that tonight.”
Butler joined only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as players with a 40-point playoff game for Miami. He was 13 for 20 from the field, 12 for 13 from the line, and 2 for 2 from 3-point land.
Butler’s previous high for the Heat was 38 points. His last playoff career-best was 36, for the Philadelphia 76ers last year.
This is the Butler who the Heat will need the remainder of the playoffs. Butler scoring 40 points would be amazing for four games, but realistically Butler doing it once or twice adds to his legacy in the playoffs.
Butler has found his way to a team that fits his personality. Moreover, his leadership fits well with a front office the markets the “Heat culture.”
Coincidently, Heat President Pat Riley was at the game, though he’s not allowed to be near the team or their hotel because of the restart’s health and safety rules. Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg — who was at some first-round games as well, is important.
Other front office executives, family members from other teams are there nevertheless, the fact that they are in attendance and able to feel the emotions of the playoffs is all part of the culture Butler is part of.
“It is a star’s league,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s is why we sought him out so aggressively. He fits everything about us. Our fabric, who we are. Everyone feels comfortable when he is making those decisions.”
This win opens the eyes of other teams in the bubble who look at the Heat as only a fifth seed. Miami improved to 5-0 in the postseason.
Goran Dragic added 27, Bam Adebayo had 12 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists, Tyler Herro added 11 points. The Heat are 3-1 overall against the top-seeded Bucks this season.
Miami led after three quarters, subsequently trailing for most of the game. Also, they managed only three points in the first 6:09 of the fourth quarter.
Butler connected on a 3-pointer with over three minutes left that pushed the lead to 102-96; it was the cushion the Heat needed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning and favorite to win the MVP, had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists for the Bucks. But struggled from the charity stripe he went 4 for 12.
“I take five dribbles, then I shoot it, miss or make, take five dribbles, then I shoot it again,” Antetokounmpo shared. “My confidence remains high at all times.”
Khris Middleton scored 28 points for Milwaukee; Brook Lopez had 24 points on 8 for 10 shooting.
The beat goes on.
Game 2 is Wednesday.