A very real argument can be made that Jimmy Butler has been the best player so far in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
His greatest masterpiece thus far arguably came in the Heat’s win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After falling behind early in the game, Butler and the Heat roared back in the second half on their way to a convincing win.
Butler’s stat line in the game looked like something out of a video game. He finished with 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. He shot 17-of-18 from the charity stripe and 63.2 percent from the field.
Though Butler has never been one to need added motivation, sports pundit Stephen A. Smith recently revealed that Butler is playing with a serious chip on his shoulder. He claimed that after the Heat won their series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Butler texted him with a strong message.
Stephen A., in his ESPN post-game report, says Jimmy Butler texted him after winning the series against Philadelphia and said: "You and everybody else have slept on me." pic.twitter.com/OTUqHqVx6J
— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) May 18, 2022
Butler had a solid 2021-22 NBA regular season with the Heat. He averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. However, not even many Heat fans could have predicted the level of dominance that Butler has shown thus far in the playoffs.
With Game 1 in the books and the Heat holding a 1-0 lead in the series, Butler and his teammates are surely already looking ahead to Game 2. If they can win both games at home and solidify their advantage in the series, their chances of advancing to the Finals will obviously go way up.
In Game 2, Heat fans can expect more of the same from Butler. He seems determined to return to the Finals since the last time the Heat got there was in 2020.
Hopefully, this time the Heat are able to take care of unfinished business.