Playoff Jimmy? Butler Is Averaging 26 PPG Since NBA All Star Break

rsz usatsi 22657346
rsz usatsi 22657346

Many NBA teams and their stars talk about “turning things on” when the regular season winds down and the playoffs on the horizon. In recent years, that has been especially true for Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who is once again elevating his play now that we are past the All-Star break.

Heat Have Been Red Hot Since Start Of February

Miami had a record of 24-23 toward the end of January. They were middling around .500 for the entirety of the first three months of the season, and looked like they were bound for the Play-In Tournament at best. But starting with a win against the Sacramento Kings on January 31st, the Heat have now won 10 of their last 13 games, and are knocking on the door of the top-6 in the Eastern Conference.

And just like in seasons past, it is Butler who has flipped a switch with 22 games to play.

He wasn’t playing poorly in the first 37 games that he participated in. He was averaging 21.4 points, about what he has put up over the past half-decade, and was shooting at easily the best 3-point clip of his career at 44%. But those numbers have risen over the past couple of weeks. In the four games that Butler has played in since the NBA All-Star break, he is averaging just shy of 26 points per, is shooting 60% from deep, and is adding 6.3 assists and 2.3 steals for good measure.

Different Year, Same Story For Miami?

It is a small sample size, but is exactly what the Heat have been patiently waiting for. Last season, Miami entered the playoffs as the 8th seed and going up against the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished with the league’s best record. After upsetting Giannis Antetokounmpo and company and getting past the New York Knicks in Round 2, they were able to take down the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals to complete one of the most unlikely postseason runs in NBA history. They would eventually lose to the Denver Nuggets in the championship round.

The Heat are still in the 7th seed in the East as they were a month ago, but they are now knocking on the door of the top six. They will enter the coming week just a half-game behind the Orlando Magic for the idol #6 seed, and have a game against the Detroit Pistons coming up on Tuesday.

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