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Tempers were running hot in the first quarter of Game 5 of the Finals, and Jimmy Butler and Dwight Howard exchanged some words and shoves after getting tangled up.
The Miami Heat reached the NBA Finals, in no small part, because of the effort and aggressive intensity of their leader Jimmy Butler. Facing elimination in Game 5, you could expect that intensity being turned up to 11. It only took a few minutes for it to come out in a little extracurricular hootenannying with the Lakers’ Dwight Howard.
What was it that got Jimmy Butler so worked up?
This was clearly instigated by more than just some aggressive boxing-out — Howard had absolutely clobbered Butler on a layup attempt just a few possessions before. Butler got two free throws but when Dwight still couldn’t keep his hands to himself, he probably was looking to make a statement. From the reverse angle, you can see Butler basically trying to tackle Howard with a round-the-waist bearhug.
Luckily, it didn’t progress beyond this and no one was ejected. The Heat’s odds of pulling off a 3-1 comeback are slim to begin with but an ejection for Butler would pretty much end things right now.
The Heat finished the first quarter holding a slim, 25-24 lead with Butler doing everything he can to extend the series. He started the game with 8 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were powering the Lakers, combining for 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists on 7-of-11 from the field. However, Davis rolled his ankle in the final moments of the quarter an injury that could have huge implications for the rest of the game.