Jimmy Butler has been one of the best players in the 2022 NBA playoffs, and on Friday night, with their backs against the wall, the Miami Heat needed him to be at his best.
Well, he delivered.
Butler scored a playoff-career-high 47 points as the Heat avoided elimination and defeated the Celtics 111-1o3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden.
The seventh and deciding game is Sunday night in Miami. The winner will battle the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Butler, who recorded his fourth 40-plus point game in these playoffs, got a special call from Heat legend Dwyane Wade before the game, which according to Butler, was well needed.
“D-Wade never hits me until his voice is really, really needed,” Butler said. “And it was. I texted him and told him I appreciate him for it. Just to let me go out there, continue to build on that legacy, and make sure that we win.”
“It’s (expletive) incredible,” Kyle Lowry, who had 18 points and 10 assists, said about Butler’s performance. “He’s such a humble basketball player. The work he does put in, I witness it. It’s incredible to have a guy like him next to me. I’ve played with some great players, and he’s one of the best players I’ve played with.”
This performance by Butler was very similar to LeBron James’ big Game 6 performance against the Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, where the Heat trailed 3-2. In that game, James had 45 points and 15 rebounds, and Miami defeated the Celtics in Boston. That was a great performance, and what Butler did Friday night was equally special.
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who had 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists, was impressed by Butler’s performance, but he feels Boston will do a better job against Butler in Game 7.
“He just had it rolling. Made a lot of shots that on film we’ll live with,” Brown said. “Made four threes; I don’t think he’s made four threes in a game all Playoffs, but tonight he came out, and he was aggressive. He played like his back was on the wall, and he had an amazing game, and we just had no answers for him tonight. We’ve got to do a better job — we will do a better job on Sunday.”
Now, it’s onto Game 7, and no one knows what will happen. Boston has won in Miami twice in this series, so they definitely have a shot.