Capstraw: Jimmy Butler with Heat is like NBA on


Miami Heat veteran swingman Jimmy Butler was neither a league MVP finalist nor a top-10 vote-getter this season. But through three rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs, he's been the epitome of valuable and the driving force behind a title contender. In the Heat's 118-107 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the East Finals on Tuesday at FTX Arena, Butler recorded a team-high 41-points, pushing his postseason average to 29.8 points over 11 games.

Butler has long competed with a chip on his shoulder, and his hellbent nature to hush critics is now paying off. In addition to his 41 points, he recorded nine boards, five assists, and four steals, becoming just the eighth player in history to post that stat line in a playoff game. It was also his fifth-career playoff game with 40 points on 60-percent shooting, tied with Charles Barkley for the third-most over the last 30 postseasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"I think he's got such a winning mentality... I'm not into style points. I want to know who's winning and who's winning me the game. And to me, in my mind, that's what he's always brought," NBA analyst Tim Capstraw told The DA Show on Thursday. "I couldn't believe Philly let him go, especially after the series he had. I think he's got an edge to him, a mentality, and he's in the perfect place.

"He's a top-15 player in the NBA, but toughness-wise, scores a lot higher with me... If the NBA had, you know what I mean? Butler with Pat Riley as the executive, Erik Spoelstra as the coach, and all these tough guys around the team. Oh my god, he's a perfect player. It's like, what took him so long?... This is an interesting and a fun team to evaluate right now."

Boston, which played Game 1 without starters Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health and safety protocols), wasn't able to stave off Miami for all 48 minutes. Although they controlled the first half with ease, the third quarter was a mess, as they scored just 14 points and shot 13-percent from the floor, their worst field-goal percentage in any quarter over the last four years. It also took the Celtics seven-plus minutes to connect on their first bucket.

The Heat, which clinched the conference's top seed with a 53-29 record, will play Game 2 against the Celtics on Thursday night (8:30 ET tipoff). According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, Miami has a 39-percent chance to reach the NBA Finals and a 25-percent chance to capture their first championship since 2013. Both teams met in the 2020 East Finals, and the Heat won in six games.

The entire NBA conversation between Capstraw and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The DA Show on Twitter @DAonCBS and @CBSSportsRadio, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.