Jimmy Butler found a comfort zone in Game 3, right under the net, inside the paint. Throughout the night, the Heat superstar was grinding for layups, absorbing continuous contact, and drew in defenders while distributing to teammates. It was indeed a superior performance in their 115-104 victory over the Lakers on Sunday.
Butler became the first player ever to out-score, out-rebound, and out-assist LeBron James in a Finals match. Jimmy etched in a 40-11-13 stat line and brought Miami within a game of tying up the series. Statistically, we know Butler fell in love with the paint as he didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer for the night, which by comparison, the Lakers attempted 42. The paint also rewarded his efforts by sending him to the line 14 times which he shot a highly efficient 70 percent from.
By the game’s end, he was responsible for 73 points, either as the scorer or the assist man, the second-most in Finals history. In simple terms, this match ultimately came down to Butler not accepting defeat and thoroughly outplayed LeBron James, who was his primary defender for the night.
With just over a minute left in the fourth, after Butler scored a basket that was essentially a dagger, Butler roared at James, “You’re in trouble” — something he claimed James had said to him earlier. The thought does come to mind, are the Lakers in trouble? The tempo and expectations lean heavily with the Lakers, but I’m sure this game was a wake-up call for LA.
Catch you Thursday.