Butler threat nullified
Heat star Jimmy Butler was off the pace in Friday’s defeat to the Celtics and saw his side’s best offensive moments delivered whilst he was rooted to his chair on Monday. When he’s on the court, the 34-year-old looks rusty, like a player who didn’t participate in any of the Heat’s five preseason games.
A clear reluctance to shoot under any circumstance was more than evident in Butler’s performance, to the hindrance of teammates and a clearly agitated coach who didn’t give the veteran a look in from the bench when the Bucks’ lead was cut back to a salvageable deficit. Was an overly selfless Butler what Miami needed in Bam’s absence? Not at all.
The ability to glide effortlessly along the baseline and create opportunities from 3-point range was still prevalent, but this play only became less and less effective the more it continued to be forced. Continual quickly-released catch-and-shoot 3s were the order of the day for an offense that didn’t resemble any discipline or innovation for the vast majority of the 48.
A spirited late push
Trailing at the end of the quarter, 97-73, the prospect of a humiliating blowout to conference rivals seemed inevitable. As Jimmy Butler sat for the entirety of the final quarter, much-needed minutes were dished out to the team’s young core: in particular to the starlet duo of Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic.
On both ends of the floor, Spo’s men possessed noticeably more positive energy and reflected a five who had a genuine hunger to make things right as well as staking their own personal claim in the rotation.
As has predominantly been the case since his successful return to the rotation last season, Duncan Robinson provided Miami with more dynamism in his minutes in the fourth as he continues his growth into a much more complete player with a range of different effective weapons in his arsenal.
Despite receiving extremely limited minutes in the season’s opening three games, the so-far withheld potential of Nikola Jovic in a Heat jersey appeared to be unleashed as he took the court with an encouraging swagger and confidence in his game. The sizing up of Brook Lopez before nestling in a well-taken attempt for the 3 emphasized the rapid growth of a 20-year-old star who is eager to kick on from his inspiring FIBA World Cup campaign.