After helping lead the Miami Heat to a six-game win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, Jimmy Butler is headed to his first NBA Finals in his 10-year career.
As they accepted their trophy on the court, the Miami celebration after their Game 6, series-clinching win was brief. Then, they quickly shifted attention to their next challenge: The Los Angeles Lakers.
Sweeping the Pacers, taking down the top-seeded Bucks in five, and then abolishing the Celtics in six, Miami has passed every test this postseason with flying colors, but they know the Lakers present a unique challenge, one that has been existing just about every season for the last decade.
Jimmy Butler was asked in his postgame interview about facing the Lakers and said they present the ultimate test — a LeBron James led team — something that every NBA player of this era has had to struggle with if they wanted to win a championship.
Butler would also say that, to beat the Lakers, he knew the Heat would have to play a perfect series and that they’re up for the challenge and capable of doing so. For someone who spent most of his career in the Eastern Conference while James was at his peak, both with Miami and in Cleveland, Butler knows exactly how difficult it is to get past James in the postseason.
At the same time, this is a Heat team that’s downed a top seed once already and enters the Finals with an immense amount of confidence.
What will make this Finals so fascinating is that it’s a battle between the two best fourth quarter teams of this postseason. The Lakers and Heat have both had their lulls and struggles in the first three quarters of action, but the fourth quarter has brought out the best in them. It’s a testament to their leaders in Butler and James, and whoever can continue that trend will likely hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.