Jimmy Butler had the game of his life on Sunday. With the Miami Heat facing the possibility of going down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, Butler carried the Heat to a much-needed win in Game 3 by tallying 40 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Butler’s monstrous stat line made him the first-ever player to record more points, rebounds and assists than James in a Finals game, according to Elias Sports, and during the fourth quarter of Game 3, Butler let James hear about it.
Jimmy Butler straight up told LeBron "You're in trouble" pic.twitter.com/daBI9bV5OI— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 5, 2020
It was a bold move from Butler when you consider how James has responded to taunting in the past, good-spirited or otherwise, but according to Butler, he was just returning the favor.
“First of all, I’m not just out there talking trash because I’m not,” Butler said during his media availability on Monday. “LeBron said that to me at the end of the first, that’s what happened. I just said it to him in the fourth quarter.”
James didn’t outright deny that he said anything to Butler in Game 3, but he did say that he typically strays from talking trash unless it’s initiated by another player.
“I’ve always been a guy who kind of let his game do the talking,” James said on Monday. “But when guys get to talking, I can do that as well. I’ve always tried to let my game do the talking. Some guys like to talk their way through the basketball game. I think it helps them out personally. There’s always communication going on on the floor.
“For me personally, as long as it doesn’t get disrespectful, I’m fine with it. But I’ve never really started up a trash-talking dialogue. That’s just not me. I believe the way I play the game is enough trash talking in itself.”
Unfortunately, James’ game didn’t have a rebuttal for Butler’s trash talk in Game 3. While James tallied 25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 blocks — a stat line that’s more typical for him than it is for Butler — he also turned the ball over eight times, including four times in the first quarter. If James can keep those turnovers down in Game 4, the Lakers should be able to get back on track, and keep Butler quiet in more ways than one.
The Lakers and Heat will tip-off at 6 p.m on ABC.