The Miami Heat's 2020 NBA Finals run showcased the perfect marriage between the franchise and their superstar Jimmy Butler.
And Butler, or rather the absence of him, has been a huge reason for the reigning Eastern Conference Champions having a sub-par first-half of the season. In fact, at the end of the first-half schedule, they ranked sixth in the East with an 18-18 record.
Of the 36 games, Butler missed 14 in which the Heat went 4-10 including a 2-7 stretch in early January.
However, in the 25 games he's played - irrespective of the team's lineup, his numbers and impact are among the league's best.
On the ESPN's PER table, he ranks eighth but he's essentially in the Top 7 with CJ McCollum (only 13 games) and slotted above him. On NBA.com's Player Impact Estimate, he is tied for fourth with LeBron James.
In the team's final game before the All-Star break at New Orleans, without Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk was the team's top contributor in the win with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists but it was Butler's late-game heroics - scoring 10 of the team's final 16 points - that created the separation for the win.
🔥 @JimmyButler (29 PTS, 9 AST, 3 STL) becomes the first @MiamiHEAT player since LeBron James to reach 25 PTS and 8 AST in three straight games! pic.twitter.com/fTJnALHU2j- NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2021
In their most recent clash in Orlando, a victory which gave the Heat their 10th in their last 11, the former Most Improved Player finished with 29 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and five steals.
More importantly, he came up huge once again when it mattered the most. The Magic held their largest lead of six (86-80), after storming back from their largest deficit of 13, but Butler took over late - scoring or assisting on 14 of the team's game-sealing 22-11 run.
A video of Jimmy Butler leading us to another dub: pic.twitter.com/Lt6LRTTdqx- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 15, 2021
In the games Butler has suited up this season, he's led the team to a 17-8 record with averages of 21.4 points, 8.0 assists, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals.
While his scoring is down, he's averaging career-highs in assists and rebounds, and near career-high in steals. That balanced contribution is showing in the on-off court numbers.
When on the floor, the Heat outscored their opponents by a team-best 6.6 points per 100 possessions , whereas when he's on the bench, the team gets outscored by 7.2 per 100 possessions.
Since his return in late January, after nearly two weeks out of action, the team's gone 15-6 including a seven-game winning streak, a victory in a Finals rematch against the Lakers in Los Angeles, and stunning the league's best team in the Utah Jazz in Miami.
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