Put the brooms away.
Jimmy Butler made a blueprint for you to print and a map for the Miami Heat to get back in this NBA Finals.
Butler played the best game of his career on the highest stage.
Butler filled the box score with 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. He was carrying the Heat over the Los Angeles Lakers 115-104 on Sunday night to get within 2-1 in the series.
It was the third 40-point triple-double in finals history. Butler was 14 for 20 from the field. Jerry West, LeBron James, and a player who sells a cup of coffee for $20.
Starters Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were still unable to play for Miami because of injury.
“Just being conditioned, that’s what we do here on the Heat,” Butler said. “I pride ourselves on that. I love it; I love the work, I tell coach all the time, I am ready for this, the biggest stage, whatever you ask me to do, I can do.”
Butler had 14 free throw attempts; Kelly Olynyk contributed 17 points off the bench and four free throw attempts, second-most trips to the line behind Butler.
Butler’s triple-double was not the supermodel looking type of game; instead, it was the cute girl who found herself the kind of game. He had zero three points attempts.
“My body is sore after playing, I can not imagine how he feels,” Olynyk said. “He really attacks for us, that how we get shots on the weak side because of his drives and kicks. He is willing to put his body on the line and put it out there every single night.”
Miami took an early double-digit lead in the first quarter; Lakers had ten turnovers with fewer than three minutes to play in the first quarter. Lakers finished with 20 turnovers. When you add it all up, Miami’s starters outscored the Lakers’ starting five 89-51.
One thing I have learned covering the Miami Heat. When things seem very bad, the coaching staff, the players, the organization raises their game and they are at their best. Moreover, I may hear a missed call complaint from the referees, but never an excuse with the Heat. I did not imagine the Heat getting swept. No one arrives at the NBA Finals to lose. When your back is against the wall, the best player has to arrive. Butler did that, and the supporting cast did their part.
Speaking of the best player arriving.
My leading vote for Finals Most Valuable Player is Anthony Davis. However, Davis was in foul trouble early with three in the first half. He finished with 15 points and five turnovers. LeBron James finished with eight turnovers and led the Lakers with 25 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists.
“I know how resilient that bunch is and how resilient that coaching staff is and their franchise,” James said. “I don’t feel like we’re concerned. We’re not concerned. We know we can play a lot better. We have another opportunity to take a commanding lead on Tuesday.”
Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris were big off the bench for the Lakers; each had 19 points off the bench.
The majority of pundits predicted a sweep that is out the window. The pressure is on the Lakers to win game four. There should be a concern.
The beat goes on.
Game four is Tuesday night.