Jimmy Butler is ready for the postseason. Like, really ready.
"I think I'm stupidly locked in," he told reporters on Thursday, as the Miami Heat prepare for their first round series vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.
It's unclear how much of a boost "stupidly locked in" provides as opposed to just regular, old "locked in," but if it's anything like what Butler showed in last year's postseason, well, it's good news for Miami.
That version of Butler led the Heat to the NBA Finals, averaging 22.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, six assists and two steals per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from three.
The 31-year-old did miss 20 games this season to injury, and his health may be a storyline in the postseason. But the Heat head into the playoffs as one of the hotter teams in the NBA, going 12-4 from April 18 on.
“We’re ready for anything,” Butler told reporters Thursday. “Everyone is gaining more and more confidence, knowing what we’re going to be doing possession to possession, and how together we are more than ever. That’s what it’s going to take. Everyone is in here early, studying every part of the Bucks … I like our chances anywhere. First to 16 wins. I’m ready to go.”
To reach the NBA Finals again, however, the Heat will likely need to go through the gauntlet in the Eastern Conference, facing the 3-seed Bucks, the 2-seed Brooklyn Nets and the 1-seed Philadelphia 76ers, all without homecourt advantage in any of those series.
It's a huge task. And with fans back in the stands, even in limited capacities, homecourt advantage should play a bigger part in this year's postseason, unlike last year's bubble playoffs.
So Butler is going to have to be locked in to get the Heat back to the NBA Finals. Stupidly locked in, even.
"They expect me to be a completely different individual player on both sides of the ball, every aspect," Butler said of the postseason. "I like it. You don’t hold anything back. You leave it all out there."