Heat’s Jimmy Butler struggles to walk off of podium following Game 5 press conference after seeming exhausted

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Jimmy Butler’s most impressive statistic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals was not his 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists or five steals. No, the most impressive part of Butler’s second masterpiece in three games was how many minutes he played in it. The game, which ended in regulation, lasted 48 minutes. Butler was on the floor for 47 of them. As the Heat shortened their rotation to only seven players, they couldn’t afford any less from Butler (especially since they were outscored by two points in the single minute he sat). 

But playing so many minutes, even with his stellar conditioning, takes a toll. Just watch Butler walk off of the podium after his Game 5 press conference. He’s visibly hobbling, but not because of an injury (at least one that we know of). He just appears so exhausted that walking upright is too tall a task for the moment. 

To put Butler’s workload into perspective, LeBron James himself reached the NBA Finals with the Heat four times and never played 47 minutes in a regulation Finals game with them (though he topped 49 in an overtime battle). The most he ever played was 45 minutes and 43 seconds in a 2011 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Even in Game 7 of the 2013 Finals, James sat for three minutes. 

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There are few parallels in modern NBA history for what Butler just achieved. He’s gone toe-to-toe with LeBron statistically and has outdone him in terms of playing time. The Heat still have a long way to go, especially if Butler is this exhausted, but because of his performance, they are still alive in the Finals. 

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