Skip to main content

Putting Jimmy Butler’s historic 56-point performance in Miami Heat’s Game 4 victory in perspective

jimmy butler

While dropping a game-high 56 points, Jimmy Butler delivered the greatest performance of this year’s playoffs and the single greatest playoff game of any Miami Heat player ever.

That’s a storied feat, considering Hall of Fame names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Alonzo Mourning, and Shaquille O’Neal wore the Heat name across their chest. And it helped the eighth-seeded Heat to a 119-114 win over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.

The upstart Heat now have an improbable 3-1 series lead over the Bucks, the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA playoffs, and can close out the series on Wednesday in Milwaukee (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Stay up-to-date with the latest Miami Heat playoff news – click here for all the updates!

Butler was especially lethal in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points in helping the Heat overcome a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. Butler also added nine rebounds and shot 19-for-28 from the field.

Butler’s night was not only a Heat playoff record for scoring but also tied the 4th-highest scoring total in NBA playoff history, per ESPN Stats. And it was the highest-scoring postseason game since Giannis Antetokounmpo in July 2021.

Jimmy Butler’s place among the greats

Jimmy Butler’s outstanding playoff performance places him among basketball’s all-time greats, with only three players surpassing his 56-point record: Michael Jordan with 63 points in 1986, Elgin Baylor with 61 points in 1962, and Donovan Mitchell with 57 points in 2020. This accomplishment now puts Butler in the elite company of Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Charles Barkley.

“We knew what we were capable of, even if nobody outside of this building, outside of this roster, and outside of this organization believed in us,” Butler said. “That’s fine. We just want to continue to do what we know is possible.”

Butler was hot from the start, dropping 22 points in the first quarter. Then, he continued his torrid pace in the Heat’s fourth-quarter comeback — dropping 19 points in the final 5:16. That was good enough to outscore the Bucks alone during that crunch-time stretch.

This is nothing new for Butler. He’s done this type of postseason elevation before, when he dragged an under-sized and offensively challenged Heat team to the Finals in The Bubble in 2020. He also lead them to the Eastern Conference finals last season. But Butler brushed off any moniker of “Playoff Jimmy” bestowed on him by the media.

“It’s not a thing,” he told reporters. “It’s not. I just be hooping.”

No one among the Heat’s former heralded players carried a depleted roster as Butler is having to do.

In the late 1990s, Mourning was more of a defensive juggernaut than an elite scorer. James, Wade, and Bosh were all on the same team, and their point distribution was more equal, with a balanced output and point of attack. That “Heatles” squad never needed one of their stars to carry the offensive load as Butler does.

Leading a depleted Heats roster

miami heat
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler already has to carry a massive scoring load on this Heat team. Miami is the fourth oldest team in the NBA at an average of 28.7 years. Butler is averaging 36.5 points in the postseason, with Bam Adebayo their next leading scorer at 16.8 points per game. Moreover, Tyler Herro, who averaged 20.1 ppg during the regular season, hasn’t played since injuring his right hand in the second quarter of Game 1 and will out for at least six weeks. And Victor Oladipo, one of the team’s inspirational leaders who returned to the postseason after battle debilitating injuries, suffered another knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Heat’s Game 3 win on Saturday.

For a team that finished 25th in the league in offensive rating, that has left a massive scoring responsibility for Butler and Adebayo. Just how massive? The rest of Miami’s starters combined for only 31 points. While Butler shot 67.9 percent from the field, the rest of the team shot just 40.1 percent.

But Butler has been up for the task. He dropped his post-season career-high against one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, Jrue Holiday, while also driving to the bucket against Defensive
Player of the Year finalist Brook Lopez.

“For my team, to get this dub, in this way, in this atmosphere, for this city, it’s huge,” Butler said.

Jimmy Butler is now averaging 36.5 points on an insane 62.8 percent shooting, while adding 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

“For 40 minutes of this game, it was frustrating. … It just shows you that when you have the right
grit and perseverance, you can win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And then it always helps
to have a guy like him.”

Lee Escobedo covers the NBA for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @_leeescobedo

Mentioned in this article:

More About: