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Jimmy Butler nearly carried the Heat to the NBA Finals, but can’t deny it: Celtics ‘deserve the win’

Jimmy Butler puts the pressure on Jayson Tatum during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Jimmy Butler almost single handedly kept the Heat afloat in Game 7, playing all 48 minutes and scoring 35 points in another Herculean effort. But with a chance to give surging Miami its first lead of the night, Butler missed a pull-up 3-point attempt in transition with 16.6 seconds left and the Celtics were able to hold on.

“My thought process was go for the win, which I did,” Butler said. “Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”

Butler, coming off a 47-point effort in 46 minutes in Game 6 and playing through a nagging knee injury, was asked to reflect on his series.


‘Not good enough," he said. “I didn’t do my job. Stats don’t mean anything, as I say over and over again. The Boston Celtics did what they came out here to do in this series. I learned that I have to be better,”

Butler was effusive in his praise for Jayson Tatum, who received the inaugural Larry Bird trophy as the series MVP.

“He does everything,” Butler said. “Shoot the ball, play in the pick-and-roll, he passes the ball incredibly well, gets out in transition. He’s a superstar, and he deserved that.

“They deserve the win. I wish them the best moving forward. He’s one hell of a player, that’s for damn sure.”

Kyle Lowry, Butler’s Heat teammate, expressed similar sentiments.

“You know, we tip our hats to the Boston Celtics,” he said. “Congratulations, Eastern Conference champions. They beat us.”

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