The Miami Heat staved off elimination last night against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals on Friday night. The Heat are now down 3-2 in the series after an absolute battle of a game that, if not for a missed Danny Green three-pointer with eight seconds left, could have easily been the end of the bubble as we know it. But he missed, and the Heat are alive. Courtesy of one Jimmy Butler, AKA Jimmy G. Buckets. And the G stands for Gets.
Butler has been absolutely ridiculous in Miami's two wins this series. It is not Zach Lowe-level analysis to declare they would be hopeless without Butler, their best player. But what he's been doing is nothing short of Herculean. Here's his counting stats from the two Miami wins this series: 75 points, 23 rebounds and 24 assists in 92 minutes played out of a possible 96. He's shot 25 of 39 from the field.
For the series, Butler is averaging 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists per game. All while spending the vast majority of his time on the other end of the floor guarding LeBron James, which is a nigh-impossible task on its own.
It's a run for the ages and numbers we haven't seen from an individual player in the Finals since LeBron dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in 2016. LeBron's numbers in those games were better, because he's LeBron James. The mere mortals that make up the rest of the NBA aren't supposed to be able to do this. But Butler, blessed with good-but-not-great athleticism and average shooting prowess, has made it happen through what appears to be sheer force of will.
One man can only do so much. The other three games of this series that resulted in Heat losses prove that much. Butler might not be able to do this all by himself and bring a ring to his organization in the face of the overwhelming basketball force that is the LeBron-Anthony Davis pairing. But that doesn't matter. Butler has made an indelible mark on the bubble playoffs.
The Heat easily could have rolled over after injuries suffered to key players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. They got to this point because every player on the roster knows their role and executes it to perfection like an extremely well-oiled machine. When that machine loses huge parts like Adebayo or Dragic, it takes a hell of a lot to ensure it keeps running. Butler decided that onus fell on him and him alone.
It's been awesome to watch. The odds are still stacked against the Heat. LeBron is not one to play with his food and will come out firing on all cylinders in Game 6, doing anything and everything to ensure there will not be a Game 7. Butler will have to do everything and more for Miami to even have a sliver of hope. But after last night. do you really doubt he can do it?