After a hard-fought 117-116 overtime win over his old Sixers team Saturday, the Heat’s new All-Star wing Jimmy Butler reflected on the mentality of this year’s much improved Miami squad, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
“We can’t be happy with where we are,” Butler said. “Nobody in this locker room is, nobody in this organization is. We’ve got a couple of more levels to get this thing up before it gets real.”
The Heat sit at 24-8, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They have won their last five games in a row.
In a separate piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman notes that coach Erik Spoelstra is not concerned with Butler’s shooting percentages through 28 games this season. Butler is shooting 42.6% from the field and 27.6% from three-point range.
“It’s early in the season. It will level out,” Spoelstra noted. “I don’t even look at the field-goal percentage number. If you factor in free-throw attempts and free throws, he is one of the most efficient offensive basketball players in the league.”
Butler is connecting on 83% of his 9.4 free throw attempts per game.
There’s more out of South Beach:
- Embattled Heat off-guard Dion Waiters has returned to practice, according to Khobi Price of the Florida Sun-Sentinel. He has yet to see on-court action this season, having been suspended three times thus far. Waiters has played just 120 of a possible 278 games during his stormy tenure in Miami, due to injuries and suspensions. The No. 4 pick in 2012 is currently in the third year of a fully-guaranteed four-year, $52MM contract he signed in the summer of 2017.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel spoke with an anonymous Eastern Conference NBA advance scout about how the Heat stack up against the top-seeded team in the East, the Bucks. “You have the best player in the league in Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. He’s really hard to stop. You really have to be solid in the middle,” the scout told Winderman. “I think Miami has the ability with [Bam] Adebayo and [Meyers] Leonard and some big guys. You can’t let him get into the middle.”
- The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang takes a look at the friendship and on-court chemistry blossoming between Butler and the Heat’s most recent All-Star, Goran Dragic, now their sixth man. Chiang observes that, across the 284 on-court minutes Butler and Dragic have shared this season, Miami has outscored opposing teams by 66 points. “[Dragic] is moving up on my all-time favorite teammates list,” Butler said.