Jimmy Butler says he’s not the same player he was in the NBA Finals run in Orlando

Jimmy Butler took over in Game 2 of the first round series vs the Atlanta Hawks to lead his Miami Heat to the win. Butler finished Tuesday’s game with a playoff career-best 45 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Butler’s previous playoff best was 40, done twice, both in the bubble when the Heat made the 2020 NBA Finals. The Heat needed that type of performance on Tuesday, the same way they needed it in the Orlando bubble.

His performance had the same energy the Heat superstar had in Miami’s torrid NBA Finals run two years ago. More specifically, the time he had to go against a heavy-favored Lakers team notching 40- and 35-point triple-doubles while pushing his opponents and himself to the brink.

However, for Butler, that was not the case Tuesday in a deep Miami Heat team. Tyler Herro scored 15 for Miami, while Max Strus scored 14 and Gabe Vincent added 11 for top-seeded Miami in a game that Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry combined for 18 points.

“I am a different player now than I was then,” he told reporters. “I just always want to play basketball the right way and do whatever it takes to help this team, this organization win. That’s why they brought me here.”

Butler had to turn it up a notch in the fourth quarter. Butler had a dunk, a 3-pointer and another dunk — all in the span of 56 seconds — putting Miami up 10 with 1:20 remaining and ensuring the Heat would finish off the win.

”Big-time basketball from a big-time basketball player, one of the best two-way players in the game,” Heat guard Kyle Lowry said, per NBA.com.

Butler praised Lowry after the game claiming he’s the main reason he changed up his game as the team needed different things from him playing alongside an elite point guard.

“I’m not as ball-dominant as I was in the Bubble,” Butler said. “We got a point guard, and that’s Kyle and I love him being a point guard. … I just get to go out there and try to score. And if I can’t score, pass the ball. We’re a different team, I’m a different player.”

Butler and Miami will hope to finish the series vs the Hawks in Atlanta starting Friday night with Game 3.

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