October 5, 2020, 12:57 am
It is now October. The leaves are turning color, you’re already eating the five-pound bags of candy you’re supposed to be saving for the trick or treaters, you’re probably already giving up on your football teams and we should be helping you turn your attention to prep for your upcoming fantasy drafts with tons of draft guide goodies and perhaps a sweet sweet mock or two. Instead, we’re still trying to close out this 2020 season and so because of Jimmy Butler’s piece de resistance you’re going to get at least one more Sunday Night Dish from yours truly.
Brent Rambo Player of the Night
Here’s a player you may or may not have drafted for this sweet Bubblicious flavor of b-ball who played well enough on Sunday to warrant an emphatic opening credits thumbs up.
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Miami Heat – 45 minutes, 40 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, two blocks, two steals, 11-of-23 FG, 12-of-14 FT.
The NBA has a whole section of players who made it to the Finals and succumbed to the legends that ultimately win championships. For every Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steph Curry and LeBron James, there are challenger players who have tried to knock off that collection of stars and legends who have posed with Larry O’Brien multiple times. Those opportunities to reach the mountain top are fleeting. All you need to do is ask the likes of Charles Barkley, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson and Russell Westbrook. All of them Hall-of-Famers, all of them worthy competitors and all of them were so close yet so far. That only Jason Kidd of that sample of players was able to play for a championship team later in his career goes to show you how difficult it is to dethrone some of the greatest to ever play.
It is now Jimmy Butler’s time to enter that conversation. The Heat will remain overmatched in this series. Anthony Davis will not take only nine shots in Game 4. LeBron James will not turn the ball over eight times in Game 4. Rajon Rondo was due for a clunker. All of these things will not happen again in the future and none of it takes away from the exhaustive effort of Jimmy Effing Buckets. The odds remain high that Jimmy Butler will be a footnote in basketball history. But what a footnote it will be. In one game Butler proved he belongs amongst the Gods even if he is to feel their wrath in a matter of days. When books are written about this season and all the delirium that went into playing basketball for months in relative seclusion, that story will feature Jimmy Butler and on Sunday night, he made sure it would be a damn fine read.
LeBron Yelling at J.R. Player of the Night
Break out your favorite facepalm gifs and eye roll emojis to let out all of your playoff time frustrations.
As I mentioned before, there’s officially a zero percent chance that Anthony Davis takes only nine shots in Game 4. It is utter madness that we even need to have that discussion but credit to Butler and the Heat who kept taking the game to the paint and made the officials blow their whistles on AD. Whether or not it was the foul trouble that made The Brow look like a bystander in this upset, he’ll be the first to admit that he needs to do far more. The numbers that Butler put up are typically reserved for someone like Davis when we view things from a fantasy prism and I wonder if that won’t sting him a bit. What’s more is that we may see Bam Adebayo back again in Game 4 so if Davis thinks he’ll shake this one off without having to square up against one of the best defenders in the league, he’s got another thing coming. Championships don’t come easy to any first timer be it Jimmy or AD.
The Draymond on Steven Adams Report
Any injury that happens during the playoffs is going to be a kick in the nards for those of us who have horses still in this race. For those of you reading and wondering if any of your team’s players are on here, I hope you’re wearing a cup.
Butler’s heroics came at the perfect time because one of the major reinforcements in Bam Adebayo may make a return in Game 4 despite not playing in Sunday’s win. There was some speculation that Bam could tough it out for Game 3 but was listed as doubtful with his neck injury and ultimately ruled out hours before tip-off. Would we have gotten this game from Butler if Bam had played? Maybe, maybe not. But even with this win, no one will say that the Heat are a better team without Bam than they are with him so don’t be so quick to call this all a fluke quite yet.
As for Goran Dragic, it’s certainly less likely that he will return to the Heat lineup given how lengthy of a recovery is needed for a torn plantar fascia. He may try to gut it out if the Heat were to be facing elimination but since that won’t be happening on Tuesday, Dragic will get a little more healing time before seeing any possibility of action.
Danny Green, and I’m aggressively going to use air quotes prior to this next word, played in Game 3 after having to leave Game 2 with a hip injury. But as the gratuitous air quotes suggest he didn’t make a dent in this outcome. Or maybe he did, depending on your perspective.
No single item to really draw at as we start to wind down the season so here are some quick hitting thoughts on what is going on around the league.
– I was a mediocre high school basketball player when I was just a young pup but I could do one thing well that kept me around. Make free throws. So when we had some of our more grueling practices, the only way we could finish was by making two free throws. Miss one and we were back sprinting from baseline to baseline. Despite being stuck at the end of my team’s bench, I was counted on in these practices to knock down both so we could go home. I say this to note these stats. In the last two games, the Lakers are just under 70% from the stripe, while the Heat are at 91%. You have got to make your free throws.
– I think the Doc Rivers hiring makes sense for the Sixers if only just to have the right voice in the room. Setting aside how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons line up together on the court, these guys need someone who has led perennial playoff contenders and has been largely successful at getting the best out of star pairings like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce along with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. I will reserve judgement about the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pairing because if relationships soured between both Doc and Pop with Kawhi then I may realize who the common denominator is there.
– Once again, it’s the NBA Finals and Kyrie Irving played a whopping five games this season and here he is trending again. Guys, he was talking up Kevin Durant, a guy who he has clearly been dying to play with for a long time now. He was not trying to throw shade at LeBron no matter how much we want the claws out. We can be so easily bored as a basketball society.
– I want to be as confident about anything in my life as Tyler Herro is about shooting a basketball. Here I am, a 40-year-old decaying piece of meat, who doesn’t even have confidence that I could drain jumpers in my driveway over my 6-year-old daughter without straining a hammy. But here is this 20-year-old pretty boy on the biggest stage in the world just doing whatever he damn well pleases for better and for worse. I can’t even be mad about it, I’m just envious that my DNA never allowed me to experience that kind of scenario.
– If Tom Thibodeau isn’t going to respond to these Jimmy Butler heroics by playing RJ Barrett 50+ minutes a night while shooting under 40% then what are we even doing here?