Two things about Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals: 1) Holy cow that was a game and 2) Jimmy Butler is that dude. 16 lead changes, including eight in the final seven minutes of the game were a part of the story in the Miami Heat’s 111-108 victory on Friday night to stave off elimination and force Sunday night’s Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers. With 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, Butler became the sixth player in NBA history to record multiple triple-doubles in the same Finals series, joining Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Draymond Green. That’s a hell of a list.
Butler made the big plays for the Heat, too. After a furious Lakers rally in the fourth quarter after the Heat had peaked their lead at 11 points for the third time in the game, LeBron James hit two free throws with 2:52 to play in the game to knot the action up at 101 each. From there out, and honestly, it was all in the final two minutes, Butler scored eight of his 35 points, with his two field goals scored both giving Miami a lead and the second one answered a James and-1 to wrest the lead away from LA. Same goes for Butler getting to the line with 47 seconds to play, canning both attempts to flip the game from a 1 point Los Angeles advantage to Miami by 1. He did it again 30 seconds later in response to Anthony Davis sticking back a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot, this time giving Miami a 109-108 lead.
From there, it was luck that gave the Heat the win. They threw the kitchen sink at James to force the ball out of his hands on the ensuing possession, but that left Danny Green, a career 40% regular season three-point shooter and a 39% playoff three-point shooter wide — and I mean WIDE — open at the top of the key with seconds left for a championship winning triple.
He missed. Missed it bad, if we’re being honest, as it only kind of made it to the front of the rim.
The rebound went to open space and was gathered up by Markieff Morris and he threw a lob pass to Davis under the rim...... and one of the two of them was completely asleep in the process. Morris’ pass went hilariously past Davis out of bounds as Davis was fighting for position with Bam Adebayo....... but James was also sitting hilariously wide open on the right wing and Morris never even thought about looking at him.
Inbound, foul, two free throws from Wisconsin native Tyler Herro, and bang: We’ll see you on Sunday night.
Oh, yeah, right, Marquette men’s basketball has two former stars on the Heat roster. Almost forgot! Jae Crowder’s shooting struggles continued in this series, as he went 2-for-9 from long range to finish with 11 points in 39 minutes. He added three rebounds and an assist, too. Oh, in all the triple-double talk earlier, we forgot to mention that Butler also had five steals and a block. 35/12/11/5/1 when his team needed all of it to keep the series going. That dude.
Los Angeles still holds a 3-2 lead in the series, though, so Miami will be facing elimination again on Sunday night. The Heat have won when Jimmy Butler has put on a virtuoso performance. Can he do it in back-to-back games and get them to Game 7? It would be fantastic if he could, but the story of the series so far is that he won’t. If Butler can’t capture the magic again, can the Heat scrape together enough from the rest of the roster without the injured Goran Dragic who hasn’t played since the first half of Game 1?