Butler may not hold a championship, but those looking for a ring want to stay away from him.
Some of the worst luck has befallen Jimmy Butler in recent NBA history. He was selected for Derrick Rose’s team, the current MVP, but Rose’s repeated injuries prevented him from actually challenging for championships with the Chicago Bulls. He was traded to another team with a good chance of winning the MVP, but the Philadelphia 76ers decided to let him walk in free agency so they could sign Al Horford, depriving him of the opportunity to play with Joel Embiid at his prime.
As a member of the Miami Heat, he twice came pretty close to taking home the championship. When Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were injured in Game 1 of the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, his dreams of winning the 2020 championship were destroyed. On a team with five key players out going into Game 7 against the Boston Celtics last season, he was one shot away from making it to the NBA Finals.
History frequently recalls places rather than processes. The “no rings” group includes athletes like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and John Stockton. Butler technically stays there for the time being. However, it does a total disrespect to the postseason giant killer he has become to blame him for not having a title. Butler may not have ever lifted the championship trophy at the end of the season, but he is the player that those who do reach that top most want to steer clear of on the journey there.
He is the NBA’s most dangerous underdog, to put it simply. Just peruse his résumé:
In 13 series where his team had the lower seed, Butler made an appearance. Six of them were wins for his team. That represents a 46% victory rate. Lower seeds have a 33-102 series record since Butler started playing as a starter on a regular basis in 2014. That equals a win percentage of about 24%.
With a 19-25 road record in the postseason, Butler has a winning percentage of about 43%. Between 1984 and 2020, road teams won 35% of their playoff games on average.
The 2020 Heat, led by Butler, are the only No. 5 seed to have ever advanced to the NBA Finals. They were the third lowest overall seed to make it to the Finals, behind the No. 8 seeded 1999 Knicks and the No. 6 seeded Houston Rockets in 1995.
Only five No. 8 seeds had ever upset a No. 1 seed in the past. By defeating the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, Butler’s 2023 Heat became the sixth team.
The NBA’s play-in round has been established for a few seasons, but until Butler’s Heat, no play-in club had ever won a playoff series.
Each performer’s performance is astounding in its own right. He played 48 minutes in three of Chicago’s five games against the Miami Heat in the second round, only his second season overall and first in the rotation. Butler managed to limit James to just 23.6 points per game at the height of his game, even if Chicago may have lost that series. Even Kawhi Leonard has never accomplished that. In the absence of Dragic and Adebayo, he faced James once more in the 2020 NBA Finals. He recorded a 40-point triple-double and a 35-point triple-double in Miami’s two victories.
Even though the Heat were the No. 1 seed and enjoyed home-court advantage against the Boston Celtics in the previous postseason, the Heat were a plus-145 underdog going into that series. The injury reports for Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, P.J. Tucker, and Gabe Vincent were all present by Game 6. Due to an injury, Butler missed the final minutes of Game 3. It wasn’t important. He won Game 6 with 47 points, and he nearly stole Game 7 with 35 points. Boston ought to have realized Butler’s potential for harm. Only five years prior, as the No. 8 seed in the first round, he guided the Bulls to a 2-0 series lead over Boston. He didn’t complete that upset, but this time he defeated the Bucks.
Both Game 4 and Game 5 were won by the Heat after overcoming double-digit fourth-quarter deficits. In those two games, Butler scored 98 points altogether. In the fourth quarter of both games, he scored 14 points. Even so, it wasn’t the first time Butler defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks. Butler was in charge of half of Milwaukee’s postseason losses under Mike Budenholzer in 2020 after they repeated the pattern. Butler is averaging 38.5 points over his previous seven postseason games when you take into account the conclusion of the Boston series and the five games he just played against the Bucks.
Although Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have been subject to Butler’s wrath, Butler would give it all up for a title ring. Usually, such jewelry is distributed indirectly. Because they stayed healthy throughout a series in which James Harden and Kyrie Irving did not, the Bucks won the championship, at least in part. Butler has played for very few teams that might win championships. Most of them have died as a result of wounds. He continues to insult the person who let him go.
In the postseason, Butler’s luck might never be in her favor. For Barkley, Ewing, or Stockton, they didn’t. However, despite how brilliant they previously were, it doesn’t feel quite right to place him with those players. He has created a distinct playoff persona for himself. He is exceptional because he denies others titles while never having achieved that feat himself. a well-known underdog.
Given his journey to NBA prominence, there is something appropriate about that. Butler had to spend his first year at Tyler Junior College because he was only marginally recruited out of high school. In the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, he was selected with the very last pick. After his third season, the Bulls refused to satisfy his contract demands; as a result, he played his way into a max contract during his fourth. He has followed them ever since they traded him in order to avoid paying him a super-max deal two years later. Throughout his whole basketball career, Butler has been the underdog. It makes sense, then, that he has emerged as the NBA’s most dangerous playoff underdog ever. Even though it may not have the same significance as a title, it will nevertheless leave a lasting impression on a player who fell short in the postseason.