Before you say it: we all know Jimmy Butler hurt his ankle. We've all been constantly reminded for weeks and those reminders only grew louder as the NBA Finals went on. They will likely reach a fever pitch today and tomorrow. But Jeff Van Gundy said it best-- everybody is playing hurt this time of year and if you're on the court then whatever injuries you might have don't matter. Butler himself agreed during his final press conference of the season after losing Game 5 to the Denver Nuggets last night.
So we can call it like it is. Jimmy Butler, labeled "Himmy" Butler after the first round, curator of the Playoff Jimmy nickname since the bubble in Orlando, failed. He failed epically. He failed disastrously. He was borderline nonexistent from Game 1 to Game 4, even during his team's lone win of the series. And when the Heat finally dragged the Nuggets down to their level in Game 5-- a game filled with insane foul calls, flops from the usual Heat offenders of the most egregious degree, and horrific shooting from Denver-- Butler collapsed.
The artist formerly known as Jimmy Buckets finished with 21 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Despite driving into the lane, jumping, and throwing a grenade to a teammate behind the three-point line numerous times, he finished with only five assists. The biggest highlight he created during the game was kicking Aaron Gordon in the family jewels on a wild three-point attempt and getting free throws out of it. Worst of all, Butler shot himself and the Heat in the foot on the two possessions that could have saved their season.
With less than a minute to go and Miami down by one, the Heat forced a stop. They were unable to find a clean shot so they gave it to Butler to go one-on-one with Jamal Murray (a good but not great defender and much smaller than Butler). He drove into the paint and did his usual stop and spin, but inexplicably did not even try to go up for a shot. Instead he pivoted... and pivoted... and nearly traveled... and then threw the ball directly to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who does not play for his team.
This was, obviously, the worst possible choice of all that presented themselves. Butler could've called a timeout. He could have looked for Bam Adebayo once he saw Nikola Jokic coming over to double-team him. He could have, I don't know, shot the damn ball! Instead he turned it over.
But all was not lost. After KCP hit both his free throws it was still a one-posession game. Butler had hit two three-pointers in the fourth quarter and he's not exactly known for doing that so there was real reason to think he'd pull off a game-tying shot.
He did not. Instead he chucked up an absolute brick with a ton of time left and it made no sense at all.
A full 18 seconds on the clock. You obviously don't want to use it all up but a turnaround three against probably the best individual defender in the entire series to that point is just bad. So, so bad.
The Heat would not have been here without Jimmy Butler. They also might've brought home another championship trophy if Jimmy Butler played even slightly-above average. Instead he was average at best and terrible at worst for five games.