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Should Jimmy Butler have shot last-second 3 in Game 7?

Erik Spoelstra thought it was good.

“I thought for sure that was going down as it was leaving his hand.”

Time seemed to stand still as Heat star Jimmy Butler raced down the floor with seconds draining from the clock, his Heat down 98-96 in a riveting Game 7 affair. Miami was in the midst of a furious comeback attempt after trailing 97-85 to Boston just three minutes earlier, and with 16 seconds left, the Heat had a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

And the ball was in the hands of their best player.

After collecting the rebound, Butler charged upcourt, staring down Al Horford as his primary defender, who rapidly backpedaled. But instead of attacking the rim and going for the tie, Butler pulled up for 3, looking to give Miami the lead.

Butler missed, however, and a few moments later, Boston was on its way to its first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

The debate began to rage on whether Butler should have taken the 3 — looking for the win — or gone for the tie. But according to Spoelstra, that’s all he could’ve asked for.

“It was definitely better than anything we could’ve designed,” Spoelstra said regarding the shot. 

“That was the right look, good and clean. I thought it would’ve been an incredible storyline for Jimmy to pull up and hit that 3. I love that about Jimmy.”

Butler and his coach were on the same page.

“My thought process was ‘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 I took, so I’m living with it. I feel like I should’ve done more to help us win. We can learn from it, it’s back to the lab, and we’ll come back better than ever.”

On Monday’s “First Things First,” Nick Wright agreed with Spoelstra and Butler, saying it was the “obvious, almost inarguable correct decision” by Butler.

“Let’s give the context. First of all, he hit this exact shot on this exact type of play earlier in this game. Second, on these type of 3s, Butler shoots 47%. He knew the Heat weren’t the better team. In overtime, they would’ve had maybe a 40% chance to win, at best. He’d played all 48 minutes, he was dog-tired, and if you have a chance to take your only lead of the game there, you do it.”

But Chris Broussard couldn’t side with his cohost, pointing out Butler’s struggles from 3.

“It was a bad decision,” he said. “However, I’m not going to kill Jimmy Butler, because they were only in that spot because of him. First of all, there’s no way the Heat weren’t thinking they were the better team. Sure, he shot 47% from 3 on transition pull-ups, but overall, he shot 18% from 3 in this series. He made one of four attempts in that game. He’s not a good 3-point shooter.”

Did Jimmy Butler’s missed 3-pointer cost Miami the ECF?

Nick Wright breaks down why Butler made the right decision pulling up for 3 in their Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Shannon Sharpe was of an entirely different mindset. According to Sharpe, you live and die with your best player taking that shot.

“I know what the numbers say about Jimmy in this situation: He’s awful,” Sharpe conceded. 

“But the Heat aren’t in a Game 7 without him going haywire in Game 6. I’m not even in the game if he doesn’t go haywire in the second quarter. So I’m gonna trust Jimmy Butler. I’ve seen him hit big shot after big shot. I’m gonna sink or swim with him captaining the boat.”

Jimmy Butler, Heat fall to Jayson Tatum & Celtics in Gm 7 of ECF

Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe react to Jimmy Butler’s late 3-point attempt against Boston in Sunday’s Game 7.

Despite the loss, Butler was still “Playoff Jimmy” for a majority of the Eastern Conference finals. 

He’ll have a chance to make his triumphant return come next postseason.


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