Jimmy Butler’s final shot scrutinized in Heat’s Game 7 loss

Jimmy Butler went for the win and wound up with a bitter pill to swallow.

Butler’s decision to pull up for a potential go-ahead 3-pointer instead of driving for a layup that could’ve tied the score for the Miami Heat late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals became an instant source of polarization.

“I have to say I think that’s a bad decision by Butler. That’s not the strength of your game,” ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said during the Sunday night broadcast. “You have [Boston Celtics big man] Al Horford in front of you. They’re not going to help off of [sharpshooter Max] Strus. You have so much space there you can attack.”

The Heat scored 11 straight points to close the deficit to 98-96 and had a chance to take the lead when Butler grabbed a defensive rebound and raced in the other direction. Instead of driving around the edge on the slower-footed but dangerous shot-blocker Horford, Butler — who scored 35 points while playing all 48 minutes — missed a transition 3 off the front iron with 16.6 seconds remaining. Marcus Smart made two free throws and the failed to score on their final possession to seal Boston’s 100-96 win.

Jimmy Butler’s shot in the final seconds of Game 7 against the Celtics.
NBAE via Getty Images

“My thought process was ‘Go for the win,’ which I did,” Butler said. “But I’m taking that shot. My teammates like the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”

Added Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, “That was the right look.”

Butler was a 23 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season and made 23-of-68 from deep in the postseason while carrying the Heat to within one game of the NBA Finals.

What did others outside the locker room think across Twitter and other platforms?

“Love that shot by Jimmy Butler,” wrote ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson, a former Nets star.

“Jimmy Butler is a 23 percent three point shooter. I love his guts but that was a bad decision. He had plenty of space to drive on Horford,” wrote CBS Sports basketball reporter Seth Davis.

Jimmy Butler (right) congratulates Jayson Tatum after Game 7,
Jimmy Butler (right) congratulates Jayson Tatum after Game 7,
NBAE via Getty Images

“Hindsight is 2020 – Jimmy Butler has played 95 of the last 96 minutes,” wrote ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL player. “He has 82 points in the last 2 games. He can take whatever shot he wants. He’s the only reason the Heat are in the series, period!”

“Jimmy Butler taking his worst shot in the most important moment during the best two-game stretch of his playoff career is so impossibly Jimmy Butler,” wrote ESPN Dallas reporter Sean Collins.

“It was a bad decision,” FS1 analyst Chris Broussard said on “First Things First.”

“I’m not going to kill Jimmy Butler because they are only in that spot because he was so great … but it was the wrong play. … Overall, he shot 18 percent from 3 this series. He’s a great-mid range shooter or driver to the bucket.”

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