Jimmy Butler put his team on his back throughout much of the Eastern Conference finals, but the Miami Heat star couldn’t convert his biggest shot of the best-of-seven series.
It ultimately helped the Boston Celtics leave FTX Arena in Miami on Sunday night with a Game 7 victory and the Bob Cousy Trophy.
Butler came down in transition after Marcus Smart was unable to convert in the paint for the Celtics, a basket that would have given the visitors a two-possession lead. Butler squared up and elevated over Celtics big man Al Horford, looking to provide the dagger in Miami’s comeback after the Heat rallied from 13 points down with three minutes left.
Butler’s chance, which likely will be questioned given that a drive to the lane and a conversion at the rim would have tied the game, was off the mark. Boston’s Jaylen Brown then grabbed the rebound before Smart made it a two-possession lead with a pair of free throws.
“Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot,” Butler said. “My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t have any issue with Butler’s game-winning opportunity.
“I thought it would have been an incredible storyline for Jimmy to pull up and hit that three,” Spoelstra told reporters, per The Athletic. “I love that about Jimmy. That was the right look, and I just thought as it was leaving his hand, I thought for sure that was going down. It was a good, clean look, definitely better than anything we could have designed.”
Brown and Horford both admitted they were nervous upon seeing Butler go into his shooting motion from beyond the arc. He had converted a handful of difficult shots during the series, especially in an elimination Game 6, and it likely caused the hearts of Green Teamers to skip a beat.
Fortunately for Boston, Butler couldn’t convert the one with the most on the line.