Jimmy Butler justifies playing hero-ball after Heat lose Game 7

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Jimmy Butler nearly carried the Heat to a victory over the Celtics in Game 7 but his late three-point attempt fell short. He is standing by that shot.

There are plenty of what-ifs for the Miami Heat coming out of Sunday’s Game 7 loss at home to the Miami had finally made it a one-possession game, trailing by just two. Butler could have held the ball for the final shot.

What if they had started the game without falling into a 17-point hole? What if Tyler Herro had been healthy? What if refs hadn’t controversially negated a Max Strus’ three-pointer?

The biggest “what if” of them all surrounds Jimmy Butler and his pull-up three-point attempt with 16 seconds remaining. As soon as it bounced off the rim, the Heat star faced criticism for taking that shot with time to spare and just two points separating the Heat from the Celtics.

Jimmy Butler stands by decision to take hero-ball shot in Game 7

“My thought process was to go for the win, which I did,” Butler said after the game. “I missed the shot but I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took, so I’m living with it.”

Butler led all scorers with 35 points. He also had nine rebounds, an assist and a steal. Miami’s offense was almost entirely dependent on him making plays. In that sense, his reasoning is completely valid. He had an open look, he took it. He had earned the right to win or lose the game on his terms.

At the same time, three-pointers aren’t Butler’s strength. Moreover, taking the shot when he did ensured that, even if he made it, the Celtics would have another possession to take back the lead. Holding the ball and running out the clock was probably the wiser decision in that moment.

It’s all hypothetical at this point. The Heat might have forced overtime and still lost. They might have created a game-winning three-point opportunity. None of those things happened. Butler and his teammates have to move on to the offseason knowing there’s nothing they can change about how the series ended.

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