Bam Adebayo says Jimmy Butler was better player in 2020 bubble than he is now during 2022 playoffs

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Despite the fact that Jimmy Butler is thriving in this year’s playoffs, Bam Adebayo believes that Butler’s 2020 performance within the bubble in Orlando, Fla. was even better.

Adebayo appeared on ESPN’s weekday program, “NBA Today” and was asked if Butler’s efforts during the first two rounds of the 2022 postseason are his best ever.

“No, because when he was going in the bubble, he was unreal,” Adebayo said. “This is runner-up right now.”

Over the 11 games that the Heat have played during this postseason, Butler is averaging 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per contest. He’s also connecting on 52.5 percent of his shots from the field.

In helping the Heat close out the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday night, Butler once again delivered in the clutch. He finished the game with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Those numbers by Butler would certainly be noteworthy, but in 2020, the 32-year-old veteran was able to lead his team to the NBA Finals under the unique conditions of the bubble.

In the 15 postseason games prior to reaching the 2020 NBA Finals. Butler was the driving force in helping the fifth-seeded Heat win three consecutive series. While the Heat came up short in that year’s finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, Butler delivered strong numbers, averaging 26.2 points, 9.8 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Outstanding performances during the most important time of the season are what the Heat were expecting when they acquired Butler in 2019. Even though the veteran’s prickly personality hasn’t always meshed well with some of his past teammates, he’s been able to continue leading the Heat to success.

Butler and the Heat will now await to see who they’ll face in the Eastern Conference Finals. That answer could come as early as Friday night, with the Milwaukee Bucks just one game away from eliminating the Boston Celtics.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.