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Who’s going to tell Jimmy Butler to his face that he’s NOT the best player in the NBA right now … ? He might’ve not been duking it out in the regular-season MVP race with Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. Still, the Miami Heat star is proving to be an unstoppable force when it matters the most.
Propelling the Heat to a 2-1 series advantage over the trending New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Butler, 33, is turning up the gas on Miami’s hot streak. He’s even acknowledging his dominance heading into Monday’s Game 4 by calling himself the “best f***ing player in the world.”
Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler Is Truly HIM
After Butler’s Game 3 performance, the Locked On Heat podcast shed light on blunt comments by “Himmy” Butler.
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“I’m the best f***ing player in the world. Double teams, triple teams, it don’t effing matter,” Butler said in Game 3 postgame, as relayed by David Ramil. The Heat writer noted that Butler sported a frighteningly serious demeanor while claiming to be king of the NBA.
There are better ball-handlers, shooters and defenders in the NBA than Butler. However, you’ll be pressed to find a better leader than the Heat’s alpha.
Teams Want To Stop Jimmy Butler (They Can’t)
Operating as a premier two-way player, Butler steps up when the Heat need a big shot or a crucial stop on defense.
Boasting the same on-court magic as legends of the game like MJ or Kobe Bryant, Butler continually delivers on improbable plays to get the win, no matter the odds.
Butler refused to blink when the Heat lost Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo in the first-round series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. He kept the Heat focused and knocked out the Bucks in five games, making him somewhat responsible for Mike Budenholzer’s firing, too …
Through seven games this postseason, Butler is averaging 34.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. The stats speak loud for Butler, but his control over the games in real-time is something to behold.
Butler’s X-factor shines the most when he’s away from the Miami Heat. His absence always feels like a void that’s almost impossible to fill. And needless to say, the Heat lose without Butler.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s facial expression when Butler went down with his ankle injury in Game 2 versus the Knicks said it all.
Greatness Rubs Off On Rest of Heat Team
Butler’s competitive drive can still be seen in his Heat cast when he’s sidelined. These guys put up tough fights when their leader is away. Who would’ve guessed a Butler-less Heat team (ankle injury) would push the New York Knicks at MSG to a narrow 111-105 loss? It was unthinkable then, but through osmosis with Butler, young guys like Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Bam Adebayo never say “quit” in the face of improbability.
At the end of the Game 2 loss, Butler — from the bench — gave the Knicks team a look that said, “Good effort, but I’m coming back.” And he delivered on his expression with a 19-point win over the Knickerbockers in Game 3.
“He puts his soul into competing,” Spoelstra previously said about his team leader. “When you put that much physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy into that will to win, that is so unique. You have to be able to recharge your batteries to gear up and do that over and over and over again. If you don’t, you’ll burn out. And I think him being able to get away and clear his headspace has been one of the most productive things for him.”
The Heat and Knicks tip off on Monday (7:30 p.m., EST) for Game 4 from Kaseya Center in Miami. With a 3-1 lead well in his sights, expect Butler to play as the best f***ing player on the planet.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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