Jimmy Butler nearly sent the Heat to the NBA Finals with one shot late in Game 7 against the Celtics, but the miss sent Miami home for the season.

Butler was unstoppable again in Game 7, replicating the same energy we saw after he dropped 47 points in Game 6 to keep his team’s title hopes alive.

Butler played all 48 minutes – every single second – of Game 7, going for 35 points and nine rebounds to give the Heat a fighter’s chance at defeating the Celtics.

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Miami looked all but finished when it went down by 13 points with only three and a half minutes to play in the game, but an 8-0 run cut the deficit to just five points in the blink of an eye. Sharpshooter Max Strus buried a fadeaway 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to bring the Heat within two points, all of a sudden one possession away from forcing overtime or winning the game.

Two possessions later following a Celtics’ missed layup, Butler was pushing the pace in transition, down by two points with under 20 seconds to go and only Al Horford between him and the rim.

Butler elected to pull up for a game-winning 3-point attempt which just came up short, and the Celtics corralled the rebound to seal the game.

Butler’s decision to shoot a 3 instead of attacking the basket became a talking point after the game, with Celtics guard Jaylen Brown being the first to share his thoughts in that moment.

“When he shot that, I was like, man, what the hell?,” Brown to the media. “But he missed, we get the rebound and move on.”

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Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra relayed his confidence in Butler’s decision to go for the win.

“I love that about Jimmy,” Spoelstra said postgame. “It was the right look. As it was leaving his hand, I thought for sure that was going down. Good, clean look. It’s definitely better than anything we could’ve designed.”

Butler, himself, doubled down on his decision as well.

“My thought process was go for the win, which I did. I missed the shot but I’m taking that shot. My teammates like the shot that I took so I’m living with that,” he said after the loss.

The missed 3-point attempt was far from Butler’s lasting impression on this Conference Finals. The superstar forward averaged 25.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals over seven games, even earning one vote for the inaugural Eastern Conference MVP trophy despite being on the losing team.

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