Jimmy Butler may have had a rough first half on Sunday and finished merely 4-15 from the field, but he had 12 points (on 6 shots) output in the second half. Oh, and he played over 47 minutes against the reigning MVP and made him look ordinary. LeBron didn't get to the free-throw line once the entire game, the first time that had happened in nearly 5 years and (per our stats guru Mike in Illinois) was the longest LeBron has ever played in a game without drawing a foul.
LeBron has been slumping a bit since his 61-point game last week (going against Butler-esque Kawhi Leonard in the game prior doesn't help either) and on Sunday was bested in his individual matchup by Butler. The highlights show not only the individual effort that culminated in the final strip forcing the game to OT, but a bunch of little efforts that merely disrupted LeBron's comfort enough to keep him from asserting his dominance. He also clearly got in James's head a bit and added a boot to the face when they were tangled up under the Heat basket at one point in the second half.
James was a mere 2-11 from the field against Butler, who also did similar work when switched on Wade in the game.
"That's what I asked for since my rookie year," [Butler] said of the heavy minutes guarding Miami's dynamic duo. "So I can't go back and say, 'Thibs, no, I don't want to play. I don't want to guard the best players.' So I'm here."
"I don't back down," he said proudly. "Let's just put it like that."
And I had a raised eyebrow at our bro-site HotHotHoops on their assessment of the final play in regulation.
LeBron was having an off game, yet for some reason remained the one to shoot the last shot. Whereas Wade, or even Bosh were hot in the entire game. There seemed to be no play drawn up, and LeBron went one on one against Butler, who had been winning their match-up the entire contest.
Indeed, while James didn't play when these teams met last (and the Heat won), neither did Butler. On Sunday their net individual efforts saw a win for Chicago.