Bulls

Butler-LeBron trash talk started in 1st quarter of Game 3

Bulls

To put it lightly, Jimmy Butler did some things you don't see every day in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds he posted saved the Miami Heat's season and made history in droves. But perhaps most mind-boggling of all the reasons his 40-point, NBA Finals triple-double, collected while shooting 70 percent from the floor and without a 3-point attempt, was so ridiculous: He did it lined up across from LeBron James.

James notched 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the game. But it was the first time in 10 Finals trips (and 52 total games) a player outscored, rebounded and assisted James in a game in the championship round, per Elias Sports Bureau.

And Butler's outclassing of James goes beyond that stat sheet. After a scalding start to the game that saw the Heat lead by 13 points with three-and-a-half minutes to play in the first quarter, the Lakers went on a run to draw within three by the end of the period. A Kyle Kuzma 3 — assisted by James — at the first-quarter buzzer prompted a bit of jawing between James and Butler.

So it was only right that Butler returned the favor after banking in layup that pulled the Heat ahead by nine points with just over a minute to play in the fourth — nailing down a series-altering victory for a team that entered the game with two of their best three players, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragić, sidelined due to injury.

 

"You're in trouble." "They're in trouble." "He's in trouble," Butler appeared to say, depending on your camera angle of choice.

Answering a question from ESPN's Malika Andrews after the game, he explained the reasoning behind the smack talk.

"We not gonna act like I'm just out there talking trash, because I'm not," Butler said, after confirming he did say "You're in trouble" to James. "LeBron said it ('You're in trouble') to me at the end of the first (quarter), that's what happened. I just said it to him in the fourth quarter."

In the box score, win column and mental game, it was advantage Butler all night long in this one.

For much of Games 1 and 2, the Heat appeared another speed bump on the Lakers' quest for destiny. That script flipped in Game 3. Moving forward, the Lakers better hope they didn't wake a sleeping giant in Butler and the Heat, or this series could get interesting fast.

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