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It's Official: Jimmy Butler Called His Shot About Avenging Last Year's Game 7 Loss To The Celtics

HIMMY. JIMMY BUTLER. The face of the Miami Heat franchise and his teammates weathered their fair share of adversity throughout the Conference Finals, damn near squandering a 3-0 lead to the Celtics. Aided by a bum ankle Jayson Tatum came down with on the first possession, Jimmy Buckets and Miami absolutely rolled in a Game 7 in Boston.

It sucks to see Jayson Tatum get banged up in such a big spot. You wonder what might've happened had he been healthy. HOWEVER, I'm sure Celtics fans won't keep that same energy or critical eye when assessing LeBron playing through a torn foot tendon in Year 20. 

Miami's Udonis Haslem is what you should look like two decades into an NBA career. Literally, like, never logging any court time and being a de facto coach. Not one of the two superstars dragging a patchwork roster to the Conference Finals.

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Let's not get too far off-topic here, though. We're here to celebrate Jimmy Butler. He's a living embodiment of the hard work and grit that's defined these recent Heat teams. Anyone writing off Miami's run to the NBA Finals during the bubble can shut the fuck up now. Pretty much the same core of guys who had the fourth-most missed games due to injury in the league this season clawed their way to the eighth playoff seed. Now, they're in the NBA Finals.

Butler's leadership and poise amid all the turbulence of the 2022-23 campaign kept this squad together. His entire resume is all about maximizing his potential. All the marquee undrafted players the Heat have counted on stepped up in massive ways. None of that happens without the Butler/Erik Spoelstra/Pat Riley-driven HEAT CULTURE.

Talk is cheap when you hear about "culture" because it's pretty much good when you're a consistent winner. Achieving that is an elusive concept for many professional sports teams. Even when the Heat look down and out and drag themselves through a middling season, though, they have the collective resolve to bear it, weather it, and come even harder at you in the playoffs.

Think I'm talking a bunch of bullshit? Listen to Coach Spo himself:

If a legacy is indeed made or broken by the playoffs, I think we'll all remember Jimmy Butler pretty fondly — especially if the Heat can somehow finish the job and win a title.

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You can look just about anywhere at any player. Even the great ones. Their production and/or efficiency tends to dip once the postseason hits. It's the nature of the beast. Longer minutes. More intense and exotic defenses. Increased pressure. Higher stakes. You're bound to press, and you're expending more on the defensive end, so your shooting splits may well take a hit. Jimmy Butler is an outlier in that sense — even when you factor in his relatively poor play in Miami's three preceding losses.

What's crazy about Butler's original quote from last year is that he fully believed the Heat had enough to contend again. Remember, they've done all this WITHOUT Tyler Herro! The young man averaged 20-5-4 this season. I would actually argue Miami doesn't have enough!! Or shouldn't have had enough. Boston was such a prohibitive favorite going in that ESPN gave the Heat a 3% chance of winning!

Even after stealing the first two of the series on the road, pretty sure ESPN only gave the Heat a 35% chance to advance. Turns out, that galaxy-brained analytics model had some merit, because the Celtics did rally from down 0-3 to earn a Game 7 on their home floor. Sucks for them to not take advantage of it.

Has to sting to see an opposing player snag that Larry Bird Trophy, too.

And so the unbelievable story of the 2022-23 Miami Heat continues. Next up is a date with Denver in the NBA Finals. Once again, the Nuggets will be heavily favored. Thanks to their sweep of the Lakers, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Co. have a huge rest advantage, not to mention Miami has to negotiate that Denver altitude to tip things off. 

This is exactly where Himmy and the Heat burn their competitive fire the brightest. They've won every single series opener in these playoffs on the road. They were seven-point underdogs in Boston on Monday. The Nuggets better not come out flat after all that rest. Otherwise, Butler and his crew of misfits are going to punch the Western Conference champs in the mouth and set the tone for what should be a very competitive Finals.

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Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok