Total madness: a historic Butler puts Giannis on the ropes

Extraordinary things happen. That’s, at least, what it seems like from time to time in the NBA. And this time has not been an exception: Jimmy Butler has given a majestic, extraordinary, impressive performance. One to keep in the history books. that no one will forget. And that puts the Heat 3-1 against the Bucks, favorites for the title before the start of the playoffs and the unfortunate back injury of a Giannis Antetokounmpo who returned, played a good game, but did not get the victory. Statistics say that in 95% of cases, the team that has this advantage ends up winning the series. We’ll see if it’s the case of the Heat, who have in their chamber the bullet of a hypothetical assault in Florida and three duels ahead that will be win or go home for your rivals. It would be the sixth time in history that the eighth seed of a Conference eliminates the first. It is the magic of the best League in the world, which, beyond the final result, has given us an incredible match: for the annals.

At the end of the third quarter, the light showed a result of 78-89 for the Bucks. And a double statistic appeared on the label: Milwaukee was the team that had won the most times with an advantage in the last quarter during the normal seasonwith a total of 51. And the Heat, the ones that had done it the most times starting from behind in that period, with 15. And it was the locals who made the data good, emboldened by their audience: 6 minutes from the end, the result was 89-101, favorable to some Bucks who could thus face a comfortable final theoretical that was not such. 3 minutes later, it was 102-101 for the Heat, who took the lead as Giannis tried to call a timeout in midfield. Kyle Lowry, hardened in a thousand battles, anticipated the gesture and forced the loss. And Jimmy Butler, on his big night, dunked. There was a new party.

We must talk, of course, about Jimmy Butler: 56 points (19 of 28 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-pointers and 15 of 18 from free throws), 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in more than 40 minutes. It is his personal record, the top of the franchise in the playoffs (Alonzo Mourning, Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James have passed there…) and the fourth best scoring mark in history in the final phase after Michael Jordan’s 63 (”I have seen God disguised as a basketball player”), Elgin Baylor’s 61 and Donovan Mitchell’s 57 in 2020. He shares a position with Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain and Jordan himself, who also reached that figure. He cemented his historic performance with 22 points in the first quarter… and 19 in the last 6 minutes, when the comeback began. In that stretch of time, the Bucks scored just 13. In other words: spectacular.

The Bucks managed to command after the incredible reaction from their rivals and went as far as 105-107. Also 107-109. There they stayed: Butler then made a 3-pointer, a 2-pointer and two free throws to make 7 consecutive points., 9 if we count another two from the personal previous to the series. The line was the one that resolved the last minutes, now without options and without the ability to sustainably respond to the exhibition of an extraordinary Butler. In the end, 119-114 and 3-1. Erik Spoelstra knew how to adjust the defense on Giannis and force him to give the ball away on many occasions, collapsing the area. But, in the end, it was entrusted to a Butler who did everything and did it for everyone. For the Heat, for the NBA and for the fans. The Kaseya Center, one of the coldest stadiums in the North American competition, vibrated with boiling. And with all the reasons that we can think of, he has a hobby plus one that emerged above all: Jimmy Butler.

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Giannis returned to the rotation, but still limping from the bad back he suffered in the first game. Sometimes playoff series are decided by these little bouts of huge bad luck. In 2013, without going any further, an injury to Derrick Rose in the Bulls’ initial duel against the Sixers caused the early end of the best stage of the point guard’s career and Chicago’s defeat., which is one of (still) five teams that have eliminated the first coming from eighth place. Antetokounmpo, who does not see the end of his spectacular moment because of said blow, played a good game, and made good the collapse of the zone to add 13 assists: and, although he also went to 26 points and 10 rebounds, he only managed 3 goals in the fourth quarter (21 totals by Butler), in addition to turning over 6 balls in total. And he had to be permanently attended to on his back, at each stoppage, at each timeout. It is foreseeable that it will go further and it is very possible that the Bucks win the sixth game. But it will no longer be Bucks in six, that cry that became a mantra in the 2021 ring. And we’ll see if they win the series, of course. They have it almost impossible.

The light for the Bucks It was Brook Lopez’s extraordinary game (36+11, with 13 of 23 shots, including 4 of 7 on triples). Jrue Holiday went to 14 and Khris Middleton to as many, to which he added 6 rebounds and 8 assists. But the final 32.5% of the Bucks became too big a slab. In the Heat, who arrived at the stadium with shirts dedicated to Victor Oladipo (injured in the third round), they added 15+8 Bam Adebayo, who had to dance a long time with Giannis; and 10, with 8 assists, from Gabe Vincent. Caleb Martin was good off the bench (12 + 9) and Lowry brought his usual wisdom (6 + 4 + 5) to give his team peace of mind. But what difference does it make: after all, it was the big day of Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 36.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5 assists in these playoffs, touching 63% from the field. And with a sublime, barbaric, stellar performance. That she will already be, by full right, remembered forever. It is not for less.

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