Heat Notes: Butler, Herro, Morris, Oladipo

Jimmy Butler‘s 45-point outburst on Tuesday in Game 2 of the Heat‘s series vs. Atlanta was reminiscent of the big performances he turned in during Miami’s 2020 run to the NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble. However, Butler said after the game that he’s a different player now than he was then, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I’m not as ball-dominant as I was in the bubble,” Butler said. “We got a point guard, and that’s Kyle (Lowry), and I love him being a point guard. I just get to go out there and try to score. And if I can’t score, pass the ball. We’re a different team; I’m a different player.”

While Butler may feel as if he has changed as a player since two years ago, the Heat will welcome more playoff outings that resemble what he did in 2020, as opposed to a repeat of 2021, when he averaged 14.5 PPG on 29.7% shooting in a four-game sweep at the hands of Milwaukee.

As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes, the more games Butler has like Tuesday’s, the better the Heat’s decision to sign him to a new long-term, maximum-salary contract extension last offseason will look. That deal is expected to pay Butler a salary exceeding $50MM in 2025/26, his age-36 season.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In an in-depth feature for ESPN, Israel Gutierrez details Tyler Herro‘s growth over the last two seasons, from his struggles in 2020/21 to his probable Sixth Man of the Year win in 2022. Within the story, the Heat guard dismissed the rumors that surfaced a year ago about the team being concerned by his so-called celebrity lifestyle. “There were so much rumors floating around my name,” Herro said. “The lifestyle stuff, the girls, and saying I’m getting caught up in that, which was never true.”
  • Markieff Morris has recovered from the neck injury he suffered when he was hit from behind by Nikola Jokic in November, but the way that situation played out still doesn’t sit well with head coach Erik Spoelstra, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Markieff’s story has been probably frustrating,” Spoelstra said, “Something that shouldn’t have happened, and it’s only a one-game suspension for that, and he had to miss months of time. It makes no sense, but he’s handled that with great grace and class.”
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic takes a look at the Heat’s “high-class” problem of having a roster so loaded with contributors that they pulled Duncan Robinson from their starting five and removed Morris and Victor Oladipo from the rotation entirely. Spoelstra still expects to lean on Morris and Oladipo at some point in the postseason, per Winderman. “You see how quickly things can change,” Spoelstra said, pointing to Caleb Martin‘s emergence in Game 2 vs. Atlanta. “All of sudden Caleb played and had really significant and important minutes in that second half. I anticipate the same thing will happen for Vic and Markieff.”
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