An early hot start from the Miami Heat set the tone on Friday night, as a dominant performance from Jimmy Butler helped take down the Boston Celtics in Game 6.
Jimmy Butler still has a chance to return to the NBA Finals this season as he seeks his first NBA Championship ring. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will fight another day in their effort to add some major hardware to their list of accomplishments in the next few weeks.
Here are the four biggest winners and losers from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner: Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has been to the Eastern Conference Finals before, so while making it this far is impressive, there’s a clear desire to keep going. When some were quick to write off the Heat, Butler didn’t hear pay any attention to such talk, as expected.
Instead, Butler set a new playoff career-high with 47 points in his biggest game to date.
Butler still has one more game to play before he can advance, but this was simply the latest reminder of just how great he can be when his shot is falling. And after shooting 55.1% from the field on 29 shots, it’s safe to say, his shot was on tonight.
Loser: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown
Two field goal attempts between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the fourth quarter is inexplicable. They had their chance to get a few extra days off, they just didn’t want it bad enough.
Jimmy Butler, however, did. If Tatum wants to reach the next stratosphere, he’ll have to come up bigger in the game’s biggest moments.
Despite an otherwise strong day, dropping 30 points, while missing just three shots for Tatum, if Butler’s performance was any indication, Tatum could have done even more to help his team advance to the Finals. He’ll have to prepare for a Game 7 in Miami instead.
Winner: Basketball fans rooting for a Game 7
Here we go. If the Celtics would have dropped Game 6, we wouldn’t have had a basketball game to watch until nearly a week from tonight, on Thursday, June 2. Instead, we can return to the boob tubes on Sunday night at 8:30 ET for what should be a fight to the finish.
Both teams have a lot on the line obviously, with the Celtics hoping to have a chance at winning what would be a league-record 18 NBA Championships and with Jimmy Buckets having the drive to get his first taste of the Larry O’Brien trophy.
It’s been a fun series, but it isn’t done yet.
Loser: Al Horford
Al Horford has played more career playoff games than any other NBA player without a Finals appearance. This dude has put in the time over his 15-year playing career, having appeared in 140 career playoff games. Now he’s set to appear in his 141st without a Finals appearance, but for his sake, maybe that will be his last.
Otherwise, it’s going to be another long offseason for the soon-to-be 36-year-old Dominican. Horford is under contract with the Celtics for another season, set to earn $26.5 million for the 2022-23 season. But we’ll have to wait and see what happens in Game 7 first.