What They Said: Jimmy's Epic Finals

With Goran Dragić and Bam Adebayo hurt for most of the NBA Finals, Jimmy Butler emptied the tank and gave it all he had.

After coming through with a 40-point triple-double in Game 3, which put him alongside Jerry West and LeBron James as the only players to do so in a Finals game, Butler followed that up with a 35-point triple-double in Game 5 to become the sixth player to record multiple triple-dubs in the Finals and to stand alone as the only player to have at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in an NBA Finals Game.

What’s more, he led the HEAT with 26.2 points, 9.8 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game to become the second player to lead his team in every category in the championship series. (James in 2016 was the other.)

Check out some reactions to Games 3 and 5 below:

On Game 3

ESPN’s Tim Legler

“He’s capable of doing this night in and night out, he really is, as a scorer. And then the plays he made late for [Kelly] Olynyk completely setup by the fact that now the Lakers were taking him seriously as a guy that was looking for his own offense. So, he comes off a couple of ball screens, he draws two guys with him, and now he makes the plays. So, his assist numbers are great too, but none of that is going to be possible if he doesn’t put it in the Lakers’ heads that he’s out there with a different mindset. It’s going to be to score, and it creates more help and now you can make plays for other guys. So, I just thought his approach was the way it should be every night for this team. They desperately need him to think this way. It was a monster performance by a guy that was desperate, and he got his team now back in this series. Really incredible.”

ESPN’s Jay Williams

“If you’re giving superhero analogies, if AD [Anthony Davis] and LeBron James are Superman and Thor, then that makes a guy like Jimmy Butler, he’s Batman. He was molded by the darkness, ok? He’s doing things that are gritty, and there’s a trickle-down effect to this team. The way they defended Anthony Davis, they were blitzing him all the time, forcing him to be a decision maker. The scrappy hands, raking down on the ball. Every time LeBron James went into the paint, people were raking down on the basketball, forcing him to kick it out.”

JJ Redick

“That was the best I’ve ever seen Jimmy Butler play…I’ll tell you what was special about tonight. Jimmy likes to ease his way into games from a scoring standpoint. He likes to get guys involved early. He likes to make the right play. He had one mode tonight, and it was attack. He was initiating contact, he was downhill, he was aggressive from the start.”

“There’s two things that he does really well. He’s welcoming contact…it’s there for him, and he wants it. And then the second thing is, for the most part, his finishes are below the rim, so he takes those two big steps. And using those steps and seeking contact, that’s how he creates the separation.”

ESPN’s "First Take" Crew

Stephen A. Smith: “We should appreciate the level of competition, the competitive fervor, and let’s understand that a rarity happened last night. We saw LeBron James walk off the court knowing there was a brother that gave it to him, that outshined him…statistically speaking, Jimmy Butler did what LeBron usually does and outdid LeBron in every statistical category that mattered, while talking smack to him.”

Kendrick Perkins: “Jimmy Butler played a perfect game. You can’t get any better than what he did last night: not taking a three-point shot, dominating in the paint, making others better, facilitating and getting guys wide open shots and rebounding the basketball. He dominated so much that he was the only guy that had double-figure free-throw attempts last night.”

Max Kellerman: “Butler reminded me of Dwyane Wade in that series [2006 Finals]…people forget already. Dwyane Wade, that year against the Mavericks, had the best Finals of any player between Jordan and when LeBron finally figured it out in the Finals. Dwyane Wade had one of the all-time great series. Jimmy Butler looked like that. He looked like Michael Jordan last night. He did every single thing his team needed.”

On Game 5

NBA TV’s Isiah Thomas

“When he dropped that three, I thought it also let him know that, ‘Ok, I can make it out here.’ And as the defense came out, I thought he was excellent in using his fundamentals. Jimmy doesn’t overpower you with athleticism. He overpowers you with great footwork, as you saw him drive to the basket right, spin back left, shoot the fadeaway, froze the defender. I mean, his footwork and his ball control is excellent from a fundamental standpoint. He’s up straight and down on his jump shot, he’s following through. He does everything classical that the modern NBA says you shouldn’t do. Jimmy Butler mid-range game, killing in the mid-range, getting triple-doubles, passing the ball, two hands, bounce pass, so he’s doing everything correctly. And it’s been beautiful to watch.”

NBA TV’s Dennis Scott

“It’s amazing to me, guys, that each level here in the playoffs, Jimmy has shown us something different about how to get to the free throw line, how to get to ‘my sweet spot, but more importantly, play to my tempo, not to the opponent’s tempo.’”

ESPN’s David Fizdale

“Well, I think it’s a credit to him and his ability to come through in the clutch. He’s done it all playoffs. When they needed him to step up, he has stepped up. What I think also has helped, I think Spo and the staff has really made a concerted effort to get him different matchups on the floor. They’re running a lot of flat picks, they’re doing a lot of switching with the Lakers, and Jimmy is getting the ability to go one-on-one against a weaker defender. The other thing that they’re doing a great job of is they’re keeping the weakside occupied with a lot of movement for Duncan [Robinson], and that’s really getting him going.”


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