Butler finished with a game-high 28 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, while shooting from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and a perfect 10 of 10 from the charity stripe.
It was a dominant display from Butler, who thrived in the clutch moments and made big plays on both ends of the court. The All-Star guard was the driving force behind Miami’s victory, as he scored 14 of his points in the fourth quarter to hold off the Knicks’ comeback bid.
“I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, get downhill, and set the pace,” Butler said after the game. “We knew this was a must-win game, and I wanted to lead by example.”
Miami found themselves in a must-win situation after suffering back-to-back losses to the Knicks in the first two games of the series. The Heat knew they had to come out with a sense of urgency, and Butler made sure they did just that.
From the opening tip, Butler took control, scoring 9 points in the first quarter and then adding 11 more in the second. He was unstoppable on the offensive end, penetrating the Knicks’ defense with ease and knocking down jumpers from all over the court.
Butler was also a force on the defensive end, as he recorded 3 steals and a block while frustrating the Knicks’ top scorers, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
The Heat extended their lead to as many as 23 points in the third quarter, thanks to a balanced offensive attack and a solid defensive effort. Miami’s bench played a key role, as Tyler Herro scored 17 points and Goran Dragic added 15.
But the Knicks fought back in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to single digits with just under three minutes to play. But Butler took over, scoring 6 straight points to put the game out of reach and secure the win for the Heat.
With the victory, Miami now trail 2-1 in the series, and they will look to even things up in Game 4 on Tuesday. Butler knows that the Heat still have a lot of work to do if they want to advance to the next round, but he is confident they can get the job done.
“We can’t be satisfied with just one win,” Butler said. “We’ve got to come out with the same intensity and focus in the next game and try to get another one.”