Say whatever you'd like about Jimmy Butler. He's a man of confidence.
Friday, he'll look to will the Miami Heat to a series-evening victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals after the Heat dropped Game 1 116-98, trailing by as many as 32 in the second half.
But even that lopsided margin of defeat -- and the fact that the Heat are playing without Bam Adebayo (shoulder) and Goran Dragić (foot) in Game 2 -- isn't deterring Butler.
"Coming into Game 2. All the adversity, backs against the wall, yada yada yada. We're gonna win," he said pregame.
Jimmy Butler says the Heat are winning Game 2 👀 pic.twitter.com/tCyuwkvsyl— ESPN (@espn) October 2, 2020
The odds are long, but Butler has every right to hubris at this point. Miami's path to this point has featured just four total losses. In winning the Eastern Conference, they took out the top-seeded Bucks and favored Boston Celtics with crisp offense, active defense and steely poise in the biggest moments.
These Lakers are, of course, a different proposition. Without Adebayo, the Heat's starting center and, at times, best player of the playoff run, slowing a Los Angeles frontcourt that bludgeoned them when they went small in Game 1 will be a tall task. Anthony Davis posted 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a dominating performance to open the series. LeBron James (25 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists) nearly posited a triple-double, and was typically all-encompassing.
But wouldn't it be something if Butler, playing on a dinged up ankle himself, and the Heat could pull off an upset and make this series a competitive one? The games, after all, aren't played on paper. And Butler's spent his career proving doubters wrong.