Can Jimmy Butler and Miami Heat make one more moment in Game 7? – The Mercury News

The Miami Heat will come to work Sunday night with their pride intact, their belief unwavering, their team spirit ridiculously strong, and a purposely rebellious mood to fight, pull, grab and shove their way to the NBA Finals.

And no one knows what that means in Game 7.

That’s the one constant in this constant series. The longer it goes, the less you know where it goes. All you know is what just happened provides no road map for what happens next, and these Heat and Boston Celtics are on parallel tracks of tough and tested.

“One more win, one more win,” Jimmy Butler said on the court in Boston late Friday night after the Heat delivered an unlikely, borderline preposterous win in Game 6.

Butler’s performance goes right to the pantheon of all-time South Florida games: 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, one measly turnover and play after consequential play when the Heat season was wavering.

It was LeBron James scoring 45 in a similar Game 6 in Boston in 2012 — only better considering the middling play around him.

“F—– incredible,” teammate Kyle Lowry said.

Here’s the point considering the looming Game 7: Did anyone expect Butler’s big night after his averaging nine points the three previous, knee-added games?

These are kind of swings that have defined this series. After the Celtics trounced the Heat in Game 2 in Miami, it was their series. The Heat responded with a terrific Game 3 in Boston. When Boston dominated Games 4 and 5, the series seemed to have played itself out as it returned to Boston.

Oddsmakers had Boston a ridiculously high 10-point favorite at one point for Friday. Golden State’s Draymond Green stated before Game 6 he’d be, “playing Boston,” in the NBA Finals. Some doubters (raising my hand) suggested it’d take a miracle for the Heat to extend their season.

And here we are.

There have been similarly wild swings of individual play. Lowry had 14 points the entire series before scoring 18 Friday night. Max Strus made one of his previous 22 shots this series before making 3-of-5 3-point shots and scoring 11 in Friday’s third quarter.

And Bam Adebayo? If there’s a player the Heat need to find another gear, he’s the one.

Of course, in Boston, they’re wondering how it swung the other way — how Jayson Tatum went from dominant to taking one shot in the Friday’s fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown had two points in the second half. Al Horford had more fouls than points in the second half.

You get the full and fuzzy picture of unpredictability?

“On a scale of one-to-10, I’m a 10,” Tatum said of his confidence of winning Game 7.

“It’s going to be tough, but I think we’re built for it,” Heat forward PJ Tucker said. “I think guys are locked in to get it done.”

The Heat are a bandaged fife-and-drum brigade at this point. Do you see how Tyler Herro’s points are missed? It’s fair to wonder what Butler can have left 48 hours after playing a game-high 46 minutes where the full season rested in his hands.

“Rest, ice, massage,” he said Friday night of how he’d handle his knee until Sunday’s tip-off.

Butler said Heat legend Dwyane Wade messaged him with inspiration before Friday. Reserves Markieff Morris and Udonis Haslem cornered him in the locker room and said he’d have to score 50 points that game. Will he have to again Sunday if the Heat are to move on the NBA Finals?

This final game is a riddle of an unwrapped script because each of these tough teams have shown the ability to play strong and fall hard not just from game to game but quarter to quarter. Anyone thinking Boston is out after Game 6 didn’t learn the lesson of the Heat after Game 5.

“This is the way it should be with these two teams,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It should have gone seven games. The margin of error is so small between these teams. There’s no better two words in sports than Game 7.”

Game 1 of the Finals sounds better right now. One of these teams gets there against Golden State. The fury of this series, and make-up of these teams, will be on display at tip-off Sunday. After that, who knows?

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