LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are four wins away from winning the NBA championship, but will need to get through Jimmy Butler and the young, scrappy Miami Heat to do so.
At 12-3 thus far in the postseason, the Heat hold the exact same record L.A. has posted en route to reaching the NBA Finals.
For Butler, Miami represents the fourth team he’s tried to lead to a championship. After failed stints filled with drama while playing with the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat have built a perfect roster to succeed around Butler.
Despite all their dominance up to this point, Butler knows that getting past James and the Lakers will be the toughest, even calling it the final test for anyone to have success in the NBA.
“The main key, and it’s been like this for a very long time, if you want to win, you’re going to have to go through a LeBron James-led team,” Butler said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it normally comes down to. That’s what we got to focus in on.
“Obviously you can’t focus in on him because he has so many really good players around him, but you’re going to get the same test over and over again until you pass, and that test is LeBron James.”
Butler also showed his respect for the Lakers roster outside of James. “We’re just going to have to play hard. We’re going to have to play damn near perfect because they are such a good team. They do so many things well,” he added.
“Obviously you know the star power that they have. We are not going to back down, though. We are going to worry about us. We are going to lock into this film. We are going to be ready to go. I think it will be some must-see TV.”
Butler and the Heat have shown no fear throughout the postseason, defeating higher-seeded teams and Eastern Conference favorites Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. So while the Lakers will present them with challenges they haven’t faced yet, there’s no doubt that they are preparing for it.
James thought about potentially facing Heat during Conference Finals celebration
After defeating the Denver Nuggets in just five games, the Lakers celebrated their 32nd Western Conference Finals win. However, James was not his usual joyful self, instead opting to sit down as the trophy presentation began.
“I started thinking about the next opponent. Boston had a few moments in my head. Miami had a few moments in my head as well,” James explained. “How challenging that’s going to be, whoever wins that series.”
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