My big worry about the Miami Heat right now is that they’re one game behind. Not that they’re trailing 2-1 in the series, but that Game 3 came one game too late.
Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo suffered injuries in Miami’s 116-98 loss in Game 1, and those injuries kept them out of Game 2. That one was a 124-114 Los Angeles Lakers victory. That put the Heat down two games to none in this best-of-seven series in the NBA Finals.
And then Jimmy Butler happened.
With Dragic and Adebayo still sidelined, the former Marquette star compiled a triple-double in Game 3, notching 40 points on 14-for-20 shooting, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, and two blocks. He was absolutely wonderful as Miami got the 115-104 victory as they fended off a Lakers rally in the fourth quarter.
Jimmy Butler is 100% deserving of the praise he’s getting for doing everything humanly possible to get Miami that win. My question comes in the form of wondering if Jimmy blowing up in Game 3 was one game too late. We all knew that Dragic and Adebayo wouldn’t play in Game 2, and yet Los Angeles won that game with very little difficulty. Game 3 was a different story, and it really wasn’t until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter when the Heat finally put the game out of reach.
My point is that LA holds a one game advantage even after Butler’s masterpiece. They just need to win two of the next four games, while Miami needs win three of the next four in order to win the NBA championship. Again, Game 3 will be one of the best performances in the Finals for as long as they’re still holding Finals in the future. How many of those does Butler have in his pocket to throw on the table? How many will he need to pull out in order for the Heat to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
Oh, right almost forgot that there’s another former Golden Eagle in the Finals! Jae Crowder was pretty good for the Heat in Game 3. 12 points, although 2-for-8 shooting from behind the arc isn’t super great, along with eight rebounds and an assist. That’s pretty decent stuff. However, it’s likely that Butler can’t put up 40/11/13/2/2 every night the rest of the way, and Crowder’s going to have to give the Heat a little bit more if they want to end up winning the series.