Jimmy Butler refused to let Erik Spoelstra go to someone else late in Heat-Bucks Game 5: ‘Let me be that guy’

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With the Miami Heat trailing the Milwaukee Bucks 118-116 in the closing seconds of regulation on Wednesday, the team needed some heroics to either push the game to overtime or win it at the buzzer.

The Heat were set to inbound the ball in the frontcourt with 2.1 seconds on the clock after taking a timeout. During the timeout, Erik Spoelstra was initially planning on running a play for someone other than Jimmy Butler. Butler wasn’t having it.

“He looked me dead in the eye, and he just said, ‘No. Let me be that guy,'” Spoelstra said.

Butler’s request worked.

A phenomenal inbound from Gabe Vincent gave Butler a shot underneath the rim, which he miraculously converted.

Perplexingly, the Bucks opted to have Giannis Antetokounmpo defend the inbounds pass after pulling Defensive Player of the Year finalist Brook Lopez before the play. The decision forced Antetokounmpo out of his usual free safety role, essentially neutralizing his effect on defense.

The Heat took advantage, and in overtime, they slammed the door, leaving Milwaukee with a 128-126 win and stunning series victory.

Butler finished Game 5 with 42 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block while shooting 17-for-33 from the field.

For the series, Butler averaged 37.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bucks, considered the best team in the Eastern Conference by many folks going into the playoffs, are done for the season. If it wasn’t clear already, it’s obvious now that the Heat are always going to have a chance when Butler is on the floor.

Butler and his squad can now start looking ahead to the second round of the playoffs, where they’ll meet the New York Knicks in an exciting matchup. Both teams play very gritty styles of basketball, which could result in a long and emotional series.

Game 1 is set for Sunday in New York. The Knicks will have home-court advantage in the series, meaning the Heat will need to steal at least one game on the road in order to win the best-of-seven battle. Sunday’s game seems like as good of an opportunity as any to check that box.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.