On Saturday, Jimmy Butler returns to Philadelphia for the first time as a member of the Miami Heat.
Short-lived as Butler's time with the 76ers was, it was memorable. It all started with the franchise trading for him less than a month into the 2018-19 season for Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round pick, hoping he could be the player to put them over the top.
"We have a championship window that's centered around the continued progression of our talented young core, as well as our ability to add elite players who elevate our program," 76ers general manager Elton Brand said at the time. "In Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, we have two of the NBA's top 20 players. Now, we've added a third top-20 player in Jimmy Butler, who is one of the NBA's very best on both ends of the floor.
"This move further strengthens our pursuit of a championship and gives us a formidable combination to take on the league's top teams."
Playing alongside Embiid and Simmons, Butler saw his numbers decline in the regular season to 18.2 points 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. As a result, he wasn't named an All-Star for the first time in five seasons.
Butler did, however, fill a tremendous need for the 76ers as a closer. Prior to his first game with the 76ers, Philadelphia had a net rating of -13.0 in the clutch, meaning teams outscored them by an average margin of 13 points per 100 possessions in the last five minutes of five-point games. Only five teams had a worse net rating in those situations than the 76ers to that point of the season, three of which - the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers - failed to make the playoffs.
Butler wasted no time proving himself as one of the league's most clutch players. In only his third game with the team, he hit a game-winning 3-pointer to take down the Charlotte Hornets in a game that saw Kemba Walker score 60 points.
Jimmy Butler buries the game-winning three-pointer 🎯 as the #Sixers edge the #Hornets 122-119 #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/W7vUzzovvS- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) November 18, 2018
Less than two weeks later, Butler hit another game-winner from almost the exact same spot to beat the Brooklyn Nets.
Jimmy Butler with a dagger in Brooklyn for the game-winner. He finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two assists in the comeback win for the 76ers over the Nets. pic.twitter.com/cn580RpnHB- Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) November 26, 2018
Butler then stepped up in the playoffs, boosting his averages to 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He had a number of big performances against the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, from recording a 30-point, 11-rebound double-double in the team's Game 2 win in Toronto to scoring the game-tying layup in the closing seconds of Game 7.
It wasn't quite enough, of course, but Butler played a big role in Philadelphia pushing Toronto further than any other team could.
Despite the success he had with the 76ers, Butler chose to sign with the Heat this offseason. He's helped Miami get off to a 11-3 start with averages of 19.5 points, 7.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. He's also leading the league with 2.8 steals per game.
The 76ers are still figuring things out after making a number of changes to their roster, but they still have the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference and are yet to lose a game at home.
Will that streak continue or can Butler lead the Heat to a win over his former team? Watch live on NBA League Pass to find out.