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The Miami Heat aren’t going home just yet. The Heat survived one of the best games of the 2020 playoffs, escaping with a thrilling 111-108 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of The Finals on Friday.
Jimmy Butler played all by 49 seconds of the game and put together with his second triple-double of the last three games, finishing with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, adding five steals. It was a one-possession game for the final 6:51 and Butler put his team ahead four different times in the last two minutes.
The Lakers got 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists from LeBron James. But Anthony Davis was hobbled by a heel contusion and when James drew four defenders on his final drive, Danny Green missed a wide-open 3 for the lead with seven seconds on the clock.
Butler would be a more efficient scorer if he could shoot 3s like Stephen Curry or even Jayson Tatum. His effective field goal percentage of 34.3% on shots from outside the paint was the worst mark among 190 players who attempted at least 200 shots from the outside in the regular season. His jumper has been better in the playoffs (effective field goal percentage of 46.0% from outside the paint), but he’s still attempted just five shots per game from the outside.
> Finals Game 6: Lakers vs. Heat, Sunday at 7:30 ET on ABC
But 99% of the league would be more efficient if it could get to the line like Butler. In the regular season, he attempted 69.3 free throws per 100 shots from the field, the *second highest rate among 155 players with at least 500 field goal attempts. The Heat led the league in free throw rate (29.9 attempts per 100 shots from the field) as a team.
* Only Rudy Gobert (72.4 per 100) had a higher rate. Yes, Butler’s free throw rate was higher than that of James Harden (52.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field).
In the playoffs, Butler’s free throw rate is down slightly (66.0 per 100), but he now has three games of 12 or more attempts in The Finals. On Friday, he became the 32nd player with at least 50 free throw attempts in a Finals series. (James has attempted 50-plus free throws in just one of his 10 trips to the Finals.)
Of course, there’s more to it than just getting to the line. Butler made all 12 of his free throws on Friday and is now 46-for-50 (92%) in the series. Nobody had shot 90% or better on at least 50 free throw attempts in The Finals until last season, when both Kawhi Leonard (58-for-64) and Stephen Curry (54-for-57) did it. Butler is now the third player in Finals history to achieve that 90-on-50 mark. He has 12 more attempts and 19 more makes than any other player in the series.
And the Heat needed all 12 of those free throws on Friday. With the game on the line, the Lakers couldn’t keep him from getting into the paint. With his team down 106-105, Butler rejected a screen and drew a foul on Markieff Morris, putting the Heat ahead with two freebies with 46.7 seconds left.
After Davis put the Lakers up 108-107 with a put-back, Butler used a Jae Crowder screen, got into the paint again, and drew a foul on Davis. He then put Miami ahead for good with two more freebies with 16.8 seconds left.
The Lakers and Heat scored the same number of points on both 2-point shots (48) and 3-point shots (42) in Game 5. The difference was at the line, where the Heat were 21-for-22 and the Lakers were 18-for-21.
Butler has something to do with that latter number, too. He’s a physical offensive player without being too physical on the other end of the floor. He’s committed just 1.6 fouls per 36 minutes, third fewest among 75 players who’ve played at least 200 postseason minutes. And he now has 41 steals with just 34 personal fouls in the playoffs. Among the 123 players who’ve played at least 100 minutes in this postseason, Kawhi Leonard (30 and 29) is the only other one with more steals than personal fouls. (NBA. Com)