Heat Notes: Butler, Shooters, Riley, Love

All-NBA forward Jimmy Butler had a fairly modest showing in the Heat‘s 103-94 Game 1 loss to the Nuggets, scoring 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor. He also chipped in seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block in 38 minutes of action.

As William Guillory of The Athletic writes, the Heat need Butler to return to his “Playoff Jimmy” mode, the unstoppable force that propelled Miami to its second NBA Finals berth in his first four years with the team.

“I just think I’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball, demanding the ball, being more aggressive,” Butler reflected following a team practice Saturday. “Yes, they do have some really good defenders, but I have seen really good defenders before.”

Guillory notes that Butler averaged 29.9 PPG on 50.5% shooting from the floor, along with 5.6 APG, across his first 14 playoff games in this run. His shooting output has taken a significant dip across the most recent four contests. In those games, the 6’7″ wing has averaged 19.8 PPG on 38.4% shooting from the floor, plus 6.5 APG.

There’s more out of Miami:

  • A more assertive scoring night in Game 2 from Butler will unlock the team’s shooters following a lackluster Game 1 turn, opines Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “They definitely follow suit whenever I’m aggressive on both sides of the ball,” Butler said. “So I have to be the one to come out and kick that off the right way, which I will, and we’ll see where we end up.” Miami swingmen Max Strus and Duncan Robinson shot 1-of-14 from the floor on Thursday.
  • Heat president Pat Riley remains hungry to win his 10th NBA title at age 78. He has won as a player, an assistant coach, a head coach and in his current role as front office leader. Several of Riley’s peers spoke to Josh Peter of USA Today about what drives the Hall of Famer. “You can see his fingerprints over all the stuff they’re doing down there,” Riley’s former Lakers teammate and colleague Jerry West told Peter. “I mean, they’re never going to quit and they’re never going to die.”
  • Heat power forward Kevin Love has had an up-and-down postseason run, shifting from a starting gig as recently as Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to his third straight healthy scratch in Game 1 of the Finals. As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, the 34-year-old is trying to remain prepared, whatever the role. “For me, what I’m doing is just staying ready,” Love said. “But certainly, the Nuggets are a very big team. You saw it in the first two rounds, how we matched up against both New York and Milwaukee. I think the luxury is I’ll be sitting there waiting. If my number is called, great. If not, I’m going to support these guys the best I can.” Love is appearing in his fifth NBA Finals, after starting in four straight for the Cavaliers from 2015-18.
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