Jimmy Butler isn’t exactly shy. He’s more than happy to let his opponents know what he thinks of them no matter who is he playing against. We’re talking about someone who once beat the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ starters in a practice playing alongside their third-stringers to, in his own words, “prove a point.” Butler speaks his mind.
And he was caught on camera doing just that to LeBron James at the end of Game 3 of the NBA Finals. As the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter, some basic lip-reading showed him saying “you’re in trouble” to James. Butler confirmed after the game that he did in fact say that to LeBron, but only because James said it to him in the first quarter.
“I did say that,” Butler said. “But he said it to me at the end of the first quarter. That’s the only reason that I said it.” Butler went on to add that he “just returned the favor,” but all fun aside, his focus is now on winning Game 4. “We’re gonna have to be even better than we were tonight in order to even this thing up 2-2. We realize that. So it’s to the film room. We’ll fix some things, come back ready to go.”
The Heat actually led the Lakers for most of the first quarter, though James helped them cut a double-digit deficit down to three at the end of that period. That seems like the only point in which such a statement from LeBron would have made sense. Still, even after the loss, the Lakers are firmly in control of the Finals with a 2-1 lead. Heat stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic are still out, though neither’s status has been confirmed for Game 4.
Overall, though, Butler had a point. The Lakers could’ve essentially clinched the championship with a 3-0 lead. Instead, the Heat put the pressure back on them and bought more time for their stars to return. The Lakers are in trouble. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still the favorite here, but Butler brought his team back to life, and now, the Lakers will have to step up if they plan to win the title.