Erik Spoelstra Praises Jimmy Butler After 41 Point Effort in Game 1 Win

Much of the credit for Miami’s Game 1 over Boston will be given to their second-half effort on defense. But an equal amount of credit is owed to the two-way efforts of Jimmy Butler, who was the lynchpin of Miami’s defensive masterpiece in the final 24 minutes of the game.

Not only did Butler drop 41 points, 27 of which came in the second half, but he also posted nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks, including a block on Jayson Tatum when the Duke alum attempted a three-pointer in the left corner. Butler is now the first player in NBA history to put together a 40/9/5/4/3 game in the playoffs, according to Statmuse.

“Jimmy Butler is an elite competitor,” Spoelstra said, per ESPN. “There’s a lot of guys in this League that are playing basketball. He’s competing to win. That’s a totally different thing, and he does that as well as anybody in this League.”

Butler has now become the second player in franchise history to score 40+ points in five games this postseason, the first being Dwyane Wade. Butler has also recorded his fifth career playoff game with 40 points on 60 percent shooting, tied with Charles Barkley for third-most in the last 30 postseasons, followed by Shaquille O’Neal (8) and LeBron James (12) via ESPN Stats and Info.

The only other players to have a 40-5-5-4 playoff game are James, Russell Westbrook, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Bird, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Per Statmuse, Jimmy G. Buckets surpassed James and Wade for most 40/5/5 playoff games in Heat history.

“I don’t do this to score 40 points; I play the way that I play to win,” Butler said following the game. “It just so happened I scored 40, but if I scored 40 and lose, I’m gonna be really ticked off.”

Miami will look to take a 2-0 lead on Thursday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.