Jimmy Butler is a proven playoff star. In addition to leading the Miami Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals, Butler shined with 47 points in an all-time performance against the Boston Celtics during the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, and he epitomizes the description of a “16-game player” that rises to the occasion on the biggest stage. However, Butler saved his absolute best for Monday evening, setting a Heat franchise playoff record with 56 points and almost singlehandedly willing Miami to a 119-114 victory that gives the team a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
From the opening tip-off, Butler was locked in and it was evident. Though Miami was trailing at the end of the first quarter, Butler scored a franchise record 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and kept the Heat in touch with his offensive brilliance.
Gotta hit rewind on the best 1st quarter in franchise playoff history.
Jimmy is special, man. pic.twitter.com/hyNlDANLj4
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 25, 2023
Butler was much closer to human in the second and third quarters, scoring 13 in the middle quarters, but he had plenty of energy down the stretch. With the help of Caleb Martin and a trio of Milwaukee turnovers, Butler engineered a 13-0 run for the Heat to erase a double-digit fourth quarter deficit with just just over three minutes remaining.
JIMMY BUCKETS FOR THE LEADpic.twitter.com/vkYcPqzhd2
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) April 25, 2023
At one point in the fourth quarter, Butler and Martin combined to score 23 straight points for the Heat, and Butler out-scored the Bucks by himself over the final eight minutes. That included a pair of enormous jumpers in the final 90 seconds, with one giving Miami the lead and another extending the margin of an advantage the Heat would never relinquish.
JIMMY BUTLER IS IN #PLAYOFFMODE ON TNT.
HEAT LEAD. pic.twitter.com/JE52KcwtWp
— NBA (@NBA) April 25, 2023
JIMMY BUTLER pic.twitter.com/Pz5cwhWHVy
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 25, 2023
On the whole, Butler scored 21 points in only 8:11 of fourth quarter action, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. That gave him a pair of 20-point quarters in the same game and, when the final buzzer sounded, Butler had 56 points on 19-of-28 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and top-notch defense.
With the win, the Heat take a commanding advantage in the series, though it is noteworthy that the Bucks have two of the final three games at home. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s presence and the background of a contender-worthy opponent ensures that Miami’s work isn’t done as a result, but Butler’s showing in Game 5 was flatly unbelievable. As a result, the Heat are a position that seemed largely unimaginable after a play-in loss to the Hawks and a narrow win over the Bulls to even reach the postseason.