Heat’s Jimmy Butler Praised for Nailing ECF Prediction

Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat predicted a Game 7 win -- a year ago.


Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat predicted a Game 7 win — a year ago.

All hail Jimmy Butler, the NBA’s resident soothsayer extraordinaire.

Yes, it was one year ago that Butler, having only moments earlier missed a desperate 3-pointer that would have sent the Heat to the NBA Finals, declared, “We had enough. Next year, we will have enough. And we’re gonna be right back in this same situation and we’re gonna get it done.”

Just to reset the context: A year ago, Butler and the Heat faced the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, a wild series that went seven games before Boston toppled the Heat in the finale. Butler missed a 3-point try with 16 seconds to play that would have given Miami its first lead of the game and would have seen the Heat storm back from a 12-point deficit with less than six minutes to play.

He missed the shot, the Celtics went to the Finals, and he vowed it would not happen again.

He was right. The Heat got it done, defeating the Celtics, 103-84, thanks in large part to a game-high 28 points from Butler. He is averaging 28.5 points in the postseason, a huge jump from the 22.9 he averaged in the regular season.

“I’m just confident,” Butler said after the game.

Jimmy Butler Explains Confidence in Heat

A year after his ECF prediction, Butler and the Heat went to Boston (just one major difference from last spring) and snatched Game 7 from the Celtics, fending off an attempt by the Cs to become the only NBA team in playoff history to claw all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit.

“I just know why coach Pat (Riley) and coach (Erik) Spo(elstra) wanted me to be here,” Butler said when asked about the prediction after Monday night’s win. “And that’s to compete at a high level and win championships. I know that the group that they put around me at all times is gonna give me an opportunity to do so. So I was always very, very confident in that.”

Spoelstra said the sting of the 2022 conference finals stuck with his team.

“What happened last year was on our mind,” Spoelstra said. “And it drove us this year. That’s what you hope for from competition, to drive you to a higher level.”

Heat’s Run a Shocker

Butler did not have many compatriots on his  confidence bandwagon this year. The Heat had to scratch into the playoffs with a play-in seed, and the team’s prospects were dim when they lost the first play-in game to the Hawks.

But, as the No. 8 seed, Miami first shocked the No. 1 Bucks, then drubbed the No. 5 Knicks. In the conference finals, it was a matchup with the Celtics for the third time in four years. Despite not having homecourt advantage and despite significant injuries—Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo were out all series, and Gabe Vincent missed a game—the Heat managed to advance even after Boston’s near-historic rally.

Spoelstra marveled at the resilience it took to make Butler’s prediction come to fruition.

“Inevitable setbacks happen, and it is how you deal with that collectively,” Spoeltstra said. “There’s a lot of different ways that it can go. It can sap your spirit, it can take a team down. For whatever reason, with this group, it steeled us, it made us closer, made us tougher. These are lessons that hopefully we can pass along to our children.”

It might be useful to know whether children, in the future, will carry the lessons of these Heat with them. Of course, if you’d like to get a glimpse of how that looks, just ask Butler. He can see the future, after all.

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