Jimmy Butler’s performance in the 2020 Finals was reminiscent of LeBron James five years ago.
The Heat suffered injuries to two key players (Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo) while playing against a talent-loaded Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are already making arguments as far as performances by a duo in the Finals, but add to that the muscle of Dwight Howard, the precision of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the passing ability of Rajon Rondo, and support from Markieff Morris, Alex Caruso, and the experience of Danny Green and JaVale McGee and one can see why very few gave the Miami Heat any chance.
It did mirror LeBron’s 2015 journey. As you may recall, there was no Kevin Love by the time the Finals started, and before the end of Game 1 there was no Kyrie Irving. James faced the All-Star trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green with support from Andre Iguodala, Shawn Livingston, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Marreese Speights, Andrew Bogut, and Leandro Barbosa.
After Game 3 and Butler’s 40-11-13 triple-double, it appeared as if he might be outplaying the entire Los Angeles Lakers and would similarly to 2015 James be making an argument for himself as the Finals MVP, win or lose. A similar discussion took place between Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy back in 2015.
LeBron James had such a supporting cast in this series, he actually got time to rest during the games. There have been those series where he rests very little and takes the entire game on by himself. This was not one of those.
That said, his stats show that the correct MVP was chosen.
LeBron ended with a better stat line than Butler.
Compare James at 29.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 8.5 APG to Jimmy Buckets at 26.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 9.7 APG. Very close and quite a knockdown, drag out match up of team leaders.
It was truly a battle and worthy of two of the strongest players in the league. It made for great TV and a fantastic finish to an already strange season.
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