The NBA Finals is evenly poised after first three games.
After Game 2, Jimmy Butler had said ‘It’s not over’ and he made sure that he lived up to his statement as Miami Heat beat LA Lakers 115-104 in Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals. He recorded a 40-point triple-double (40p, 11r, 13a) to keep Heat alive in the series.
With Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo unavailable for the Game 3, Butler lived upto his superstar billing to become the third player in league history to record such a stat line in the Finals and the first to do so in a win. Butler became only the third player after Jerry West and LeBron James to record a 40-point triple-double in NBA Finals history. He is also the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2002 to score 40 points without attempting a 3-pointer.
However, these stats didn’t matter to the 30-year-old. “We won. I could care less about a triple-double. We play this game to win. We are here to win, we are here to compete. But we’re not going to lay down, we’re going to fight back in this thing, even it up 2-2,” said Butler after the win.
Heat got off to a great start taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but the Lakers fought back and stayed within touching distance of Heat’s score. As Anthony Davis struggled with fouls and turnovers, Butler scored 11 points in the second quarter maintain Heat’s lead.
Davis remarked, “It (foul trouble) had an impact. Picked up two early, come in and get the third. So, it takes away the aggressiveness on both ends of the floor that I’m used to playing with, and those guys like to take charges or whatever, and you know, try to draw offensive fouls.”
The Lakers took the lead at 91-89 after an 8-0 scoring run in the final quarter, however, Heat remained relentless and recorded an 8-0 scoring run of their own to seal the deal. “Obviously, this was a very desperate urgent game and he (Butler) was doing it on both ends of the court, just put his imprint on every important part of the game,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel agreed his team needs to do a better job on Butler. “Identifying the right situations to help, the right situations not to help. We didn’t do a good job in those situations, but obviously, we’ll look at the tape and see ways we can be better,” concluded Vogel.