Jimmy Butler calls Miami Heat 'mediocre' after 11-9 start

The Miami Heat star eschewed his usual brash predictions for a sober look at the team after the first 20 games of the season.
Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Jimmy Butler’s usual approach after a loss is to express confidence and make a bold championship claim, but that wasn’t the case Saturday night when he called the Miami Heat “mediocre.”

“We stand right where we don’t want to be, which is very mediocre, not good, not bad, not great, not any of those things,” Butler said after the Heat’s defense was overwhelmed in a 144-129 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Kaseya Center.

“You talk about our offense has been mediocre. You talk about our defense has been mediocre," he continued. "That’s the word I would use.”

The Heat are 1-4 in their last five games. Injuries have played a part in their recent struggles – Bam Adebayo (left hip contusion) and Butler (ankle sprain) have missed two games each during this stretch – but the Heat are 11-9, just two games over .500, after their first 20 games. 

Beyond the record, the numbers back up Butler’s claim. The Heat rank 11th in offensive rating, 16th in defensive rating and 14th in net rating. Seven Eastern Conference teams have a better point differential than Miami’s plus-1.1 mark for the season.

“I think we’re all right,” Josh Richardson said. “Could be better. Could be worse, too, with how much we’ve been on the road, how many injuries we’ve had.”

The Heat have indeed played 12 of their first 20 games on the road. They have gone 6-6 in those games. December will bring a reprieve. The Heat will play eight of their next 13 games at home, and have the East’s fifth-easiest schedule for the month.

Adebayo’s hip injury remains a lingering issue, but Butler’s troublesome ankle seems to be in a good place and Tyler Herro, who has been sidelined since Nov. 8 with an ankle sprain, should return soon.

The Heat know what they are capable of, having won seven in a row after starting the season 1-4. Is another win streak on the way? The Heat play their next game against the Raptors in Toronto (Wednesday, Dec. 6) before hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers (Friday, Dec. 8) and getting four games against the Charlotte Hornets (in Charlotte on Monday, Dec. 11 and Wednesday, Dec. 13 at home) and Chicago Bulls (Dec. 14 and Dec. 16 at home).

“If we could get everyone back, we could put another streak together,” Richardson said. “We won however many in a row at some point [seven]. That speaks for something. Once we get more continuity and get everyone rolling, it will be good.”