After reaching the NBA Finals in the bubble, the Miami Heat largely ran back their roster this offseason, as contenders around the league made moves to improve their title chances.
And that’s just fine with the ever-confident Jimmy Butler:
“I feel the same way I always feel: I’m betting on the Heat,” Butler told SI’s Rohan Nadkarni. “All the movement everybody’s doing? Don’t scare me none. We truly don’t care. What makes me smile, is every time we take the floor, the best player is on the Miami Heat.”
Butler has plenty of reasons to bet on himself (and his team). As Nadkarni notes, Butler infamously dominated Minnesota Timberwolves starters in practice in 2018 while scrimmaging alongside third-stringers as he tried to force a trade to a more competitive situation.
In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, with the Heat down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Lakers and without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, Butler put the team on his back and produced one of the greatest performances in Finals history: 40 points (14-of-20 shooting), 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, all while guarding LeBron James.
Heading into 2020-21, Butler believes that, with a fully healthy roster — which they never had in the Finals — the Heat can hang with anybody. He’s even making guarantees:
“Just know, this year we finna win it, man,” Butler boasted. “I got something up my sleeve. I’m going to be better than ever. Just wait on it.”
Butler has been laser-focused on leading the Heat to a ring since he arrived in South Beach. His teammate, Duncan Robinson, told SI that Butler began emphasizing winning a championship after about 30 games with the club. That confidence certainly rubbed off on the rest of the locker room:
“He was so adamant about what was going to happen,” Robinson says, about Butler’s belief that this Heat group could win a title. “It gets to the point where you hear it enough, you assume that mentality as well. You’re buying into the psyche he’s constantly perpetuating.”
The 31-year-old averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in his first season in Miami. After his play in the bubble, nobody should be surprised by anything the Heat accomplish with Butler leading the way.