Jimmy Butler became the third player in NBA history to record a 40-pt triple double in the NBA Finals and led the Miami Heat to a 115-104 game 3 win. Butler finished an incredible night with 40 points 13 assists, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 14/20 shooting and 12/14 from the free throw line. The craziest stat of night? Butler didn’t even attempt a single three pointer, he took it to the rim the entire night. It was also the first time in NBA Finals history that a player led the game in points, rebounds and assists in a game that Lebron James also played in.

It’s a tribute to Lebron’s greatness in and of itself that the media is coming up with stats about him to quantify another players great performance, but Butler was the only player on Sunday night who did anything that could be called great. Anthony Davis came into the game with no aggression, and picked up two fouls seemingly during warm ups and was basically a non factor the entire night. On the night he took just 9 shots making 6 and scoring just 15 points. He has to score more and be more aggressive than he was Sunday for the Lakers to be successful. Lebron James scored an efficient 25 points on 9-16 shooting and added 10 rebounds and 8 assists, but he turned the ball over 8 times including 2 traveling calls late in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Davis committed several dumb fouls early in game 3 and was in foul trouble the whole night. Photo Credit: Wally Skalij, LA Times

The Lakers starters were able to muster just 51 points in game 3, and the only players in double figures besides James and Davis were Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma who each had 19.  Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope  combined to shoot a horrendous 1-11 from the field for just 7 total points. They need to be much better going forward if the Lakers want to win the Larry O’Brien trophy this year. 

Surprisingly, the Heat pulled this off without injured stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic and still had 5 players score in double figures.  Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk each had 17 points, Duncan Robinson added 13 and Jae Crowder had 12 for the Heat who showed their depth and versatility in this win.  The Heat have to be extremely confident moving forward that they can contend with the Lakers if they can get their injured players back on the court at some point in the series.

Lebron and the Lakers looked like a team that was overlooking their opponent, at times seeming disinterested and bored early in the game. Once Miami showed them that this series was far from over they finally woke up but it was too late by the time they found their rhythm. By then, Davis was in foul trouble, they had turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, the most in any quarter this season, and the Heat were on their way to a convincing win.

The Lakers weren’t going to go quietly however, making several runs throughout the game every time the Heat threatened to run away and hide.  They overcame double digit deficits three times and made enough of their 42 three point attempts to keep it from turning into a blowout.

When the game got close in the 4th quarter it was Jimmy Butler who took control down the stretch, and Lebron who choked away a chance to go 3-0. He scored just 2 points in the 4th quarter, and turned the ball over several times. The Lakers had the lead 91-89 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game, but Butler would not let the Heat lose a third straight game as he put the team on his back and led them to victory. At one point screaming at Lebron “you’re in trouble” which could be a rallying cry for Miami, or bulletin board material for LA.

Butler drove to the basket seemingly all night long in the Heat’s game 3 win over the Lakers. photo Credit: Wally Skalij, LA Times.

Whatever Butler said in the 4th quarter Sunday he earned the right to say it with his dominating performance. He put his head down and attacked the rim with everything he had and it worked over and over as he scored almost every one of his points from the free throw line or in the paint. Going forward the Lakers must feel like they can’t play any worse than they did in game 3 and it still took a historic performance from Butler for the Heat to get a win. You can expect LA to come out extremely aggressive on Tuesday in game 4, as they look to bounce back from one of their worst performances so far these playoffs. If they play their game, crash the boards, get to the free throw line, and stop turning the ball over they should easily overpower the Heat, given their injuries. Game 4 is Tuesday night and it’s a pivotal point in this matchup as the Heat look to prove they belong and make it a series, while the Lakers look to take a commanding 3-1 lead.

Photo Credit: Mark J Terrill, AP

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