Jimmy Butler knocked Joel Embiid out of the playoffs, then walked over to his former 76ers teammate for a hug and a message.
“‘I’m proud of him. I love him,’” Butler said he told Embiid. “Yes, yes, yes, I still wish I was on his team. I do love the Miami Heat though. I’m glad that I’m here.”
With another trip to the conference finals ahead, the Heat are happy to have him.
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Butler scored 32 points and waved “bye bye” to the Philly crowd as he sent Miami into the Eastern Conference finals with a 99-90 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday night in Game 6.
The Heat will play the winner of the Milwaukee-Boston series. The defending champion Bucks lead that series 3-2, with Game 6 on Friday night in Milwaukee.
The Heat reached the conference finals for the second time in three seasons, again with Butler leading the charge. Philly fans – and many inside the 76ers organization – still can’t believe the franchise let Butler get away after the 2019 season. He did not mess around and scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the third quarter when the Heat used a 16-2 run to take control. Butler scored 33 points in Game 3 and 40 in Game 4.
“I think he’s one of the ultimate competitors in this profession,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was brilliant all series long. The challenges only get tougher here. He saw there was an opportunity to end this tonight and he wasn’t going to let this get to seven.”