Jimmy Butler must be prepared to shoot three-pointers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals for the Miami Heat to extend the series, says BJ Armstrong.
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Three-time NBA champion Armstrong believes Butler must adjust after the Lakers’ reacted to his 40-point triple-double in Game 3 by deploying Anthony Davis to guard him in Game 4.
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Davis was able to limit Butler to 22 points as the Lakers won Game 4 102-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.
Butler did not attempt a three-point shot in Miami’s 115-104 Game 3 victory and shot 0-3 from beyond the arc in the Heat’s Game 4 loss.
“In Game 4, the Los Angeles Lakers decided – unlike in in Game 1, 2 and 3 – to guard Jimmy Butler with size. That took away a large part of Butler’s game,” said Armstrong. “He plays a game where he can drive, finish and play through contact.
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“With Anthony Davis on him for the majority of the time, that took away a large part of his game. I am sure he saw that but didn’t make the adjustment.
“If Butler is going to be as effective [in Game 5] as he was in Game 3, I think he is going to have to shoot the three-ball. Even if he doesn’t make it, he is going to have to shoot it.
“If he makes one or two, maybe that will open up the driving lanes and force Davis – a terrific defender at the basket – [to adjust].
“Butler will have to take a look at the tape and say, ‘I have to shoot the three regardless of whether I make it or not’.
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“In Game 4, Butler wasn’t able to take advantage of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo or other smaller defenders like Danny Green like he did in Game 3. In that game, he was taking those guys and ‘rocking the baby’, putting them to sleep. He had a significant advantage.”
Armstrong, who won three NBA championships alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in 1996, 1997 and 1998, offered huge praise for Davis’ defensive effort against Butler in Game 4.
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“Anthony Davis is a seven-footer. Give him credit. I don’t know if there is another player at the center position who could [guard Butler],” he said. “Davis can, and he did a fabulous job of it.”
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