Jimmy Butler is optimistic the Miami Heat can complete a comeback against the Los Angeles Lakers after staying alive in the NBA Finals.
Butler produced a mammoth performance as the Heat held on to beat the Lakers 111-108 in a wild contest on Friday to force a Game 6.
The Heat trailed 3-1 and faced elimination heading into Game 5 at Walt Disney World Resort as the Lakers looked to seal a first championship since 2010.
But Butler went head-to-head against LeBron James and came out on top with a triple-double, posting 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to cut the Lakers’ series lead to 3-2.
The Heat still face a difficult battle overhauling the Lakers, but Miami star Butler fancies his team’s chances ahead of Sunday’s sixth showdown in Orlando, Florida.
“I’m sure they [Lakers] wanted to win, thought they was going to win coming into it. As did we,” Butler told reporters following a game which featured seven lead changes during the final three minutes.
“But it was a hard-fought game, I think it’s going to be even harder for us next game, but I like our chances.”
“I can say it every time I’m up here, but we live for these moments,” he said. “Like the work that we put in, we’re built for this, we have been doing this all year long. This didn’t just start in the bubble. We have been playing together, win, loss, draw, whatever, we’re in this thing together. And that’s what’s going to win us games.
“I think night in and night out it could be anybody. It could be Bam [Adebayo], it could be hopefully Goran [Dragic]. Like we’re so together when we’re out there on the floor, off the floor, that’s why we win because everybody wants everybody to be successful.
Butler became the first player with a 35-point triple-double in the NBA Finals when facing elimination since James Worthy in 1988 Game 7, according to Stats Perform.
“That’s what my team asks of me, that’s what they need me to do, and I think coach Pat [Riley] and Coach [Erik] Spoelstra brought me here for that reason; to help us win games and I have to continue to do that for two more games,” Butler said.
“I know that I’m capable of it, but I got a hell of a group of guys around me that make my job a lot easier. I’m fortunate for those guys because when I pass it to them they make shots. When I get beat going to the rim, they’re there. So we’re in this thing together and they give me a lot of confidence to go out there and hoop.”
The five-time All-Star played 47 gruelling minutes to help his team and struggled to walk off the podium following his news conference.
“I left it all out there on the floor along with my guys, and that’s how we’re going to have to play from here on out,” Butler continued. “Like I always say, it’s win or win for us. But this is the position that we’re in. We like it this way. We got two more in a row to get.”
“I know that I’m capable of it. I believe in my skill set and my talent. My team-mates do as well. But it’s not just me, Duncan [Robinson] had a hell of a game, [Kendrick] Nunn came in and did what K-Nunn did. Bam had a huge one. All of us, all of us was the reason that we won this game and it’s going to be the same way for the next two.”
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