In Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat had their backs against the wall and the odds stacked against their favor. Down 0-2 in the series and playing without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, it looked like they would need a miraculous win to keep their title aspirations alive.
Luckily, Jimmy Butler channeled his inner ’06 Dwyane Wade and steered his team to a badly needed 115-104 win over the LA Lakers to keep them alive in the series, 2-1.
Jimmy Buckets dropped a Finals career-high 40 points. He also had his first career playoff triple-double with 11 rebounds and 13 assists along with two steals and two blocks. He did it by being more aggressive, and looked to make his own shot more than pass the ball, compared to the previous two games.
Butler joined his current rival LeBron James and another Laker legend, Jerry West, as the only three men in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals.
The former Marquette University standout played the game of his life. Literally, putting his team on his back and carrying them to their first win in this series.
But despite his historic performance, Butler is locked in on winning as during the post-game interview, he had this to stay about his performance:
“Win. I don’t care about any triple-double. I don’t care about none of that. I wanna win and we did that and I’m happy with the outcome,” he stated.
The 31-year-old two-way forward believed that after their Game 3 win, they now know how to make a comeback in the series:
“I think realized that we belong, they can be beaten as long as we do what we’re supposed to do but coming into the next game, I know they’ll be so much better and we gotta match that energy,”
Butler not only showcased his killer instinct with his game, but he also spit some trash talk on the court. In the closing moments of the game, he was seen telling James that they’re in trouble. Butler explained that he only returned what The King has said to him at the end of the first quarter.
“First of all, I’m not out there just talking trash, I’m not. LeBron said it to me in the first, that’s what happened. I just said it to him in the fourth quarter,” he stated during the post-game press conference.
Butler’s inspiring performance resembled Wade’s performance in the Game 3 of the 2006 Finals against Dallas Mavericks. Coincidently, Miami was down 0-2 as well in that series and “The Flash” came out and dropped a huge double-double with 42 points and 13 rebounds.
That ’06 Heat team went on to win the title in six games.
In the history of the league, only four teams have made a comeback from 0-2 deficit and win the title. The Boston Celtics first did it in 1969, then the Portland Trailblazers in 1977, the previously mentioned 2006 Heat team and the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
With a newfound energy and confidence, despite being undermanned and being the underdog, I wouldn’t be counting out this Heat squad just yet.