Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson struggled mightily with his shot early on in the 2020 NBA Finals. In the first two games of the series, he shot just 2-for-10 from long range and scored a total of nine points. Miami lost both of those games. The Heat were able to pull out a win in Game 3, but Robinson went just 3-for-10 from deep in that game. Despite those early struggles though, Jimmy Butler never lost faith in Robinson.
"He's going to be a reason that we win one of these games," Butler said of Robinson after Game 3. "He's going to hit six, seven 3s, and I'm going to jump up and down, and I'm going to give him a big hug, maybe a slight kiss on the back of his head, because I know how important that guy is to our team."
In Game 5 on Friday night, Butler's prediction came true. In the game, Robinson hit seven 3-pointers, scored 26 points, and was a huge reason -- along with Butler, who tallied a 35-point triple-double -- that the Heat were able to extend the series with the Lakers.
With his production from long range on Friday night, Robinson matched the mark for third-most 3-pointers ever made in an NBA Finals game. The only players that have made more 3's in a Finals game are Steph Curry and Ray Allen -- arguably the two greatest shooters in league history. He also broke the record for most 3's made by an undrafted player in an NBA Finals game. Gary Neal previously held the record with six.
Robinson clearly bounced back in a big way on Friday night with his team facing elimination, and a pep talk from Butler may have played a part in that. After Game 5, Robinson revealed that Butler talked to him in his hotel room after Game 2, and encouraged the sharp-shooting second-year guard to remain aggressive.
"After Game 2 we had a little meeting later at night in his room," Robinson told media members. "He had me over and we just chopped it up and talked. He's hard on me, but it's because he expects a lot, and I love that. This whole team just wants me to be aggressive and do my job. I thought I didn't do it well enough really in those first two [games], and I'm disappointed in that, but at this point you can only control what you can control... I just gotta go out and do what I do."
In Butler's eyes, the seven 3-pointer performance was a step in the right direction for Robinson, but he isn't satisfied, and wants to see an even more aggressive Robinson in Game 6 on Sunday night.
"That's the Duncan Robinson that we need, that we want," Butler said. "That's how he's been playing all year long, and we're going to need him to be even more aggressive in Game 6."
Even when he's not making his shots at a high rate Robinson is very valuable for the Heat out on the floor thanks to the space that he creates for his teammates. But, when he's knocking down shots like he did in Game 5 the Heat become infinitely tougher to topple. Thus, the Heat are hoping that he can have similar success in Game 6. In the meantime though, Butler owes Robinson a hug for his performance on Friday night.