Jimmy Butler

Heat Notes: Herro, Martin, Spoelstra, Butler

Tyler Herro has been listed as out for Game 3 of the Finals on Wednesday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Herro, who is recovering from a broken hand, said over the weekend he’s still experiencing soreness when he shoots. The Heat guard hasn’t received full medical clearance to play, though he’s practicing with the team.

“He has not been cleared [by doctors to return to game action] yet, so that’s where we are,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we’re encouraged by the work that he has been doing.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • Eastern Conference Finals standout Caleb Martin said he’s feeling much better after battling an illness in the first two games of the series, Jackson reports in the same story. Martin said his condition affected his play. He experienced “cold chills, body aches, heavy, heavy migraine. I was just laying down pretty much in the dark.” Martin only scored three points in each game.
  • After guiding the underdog Heat to the Finals, Spoelstra has positioned himself to receive a lucrative extension, according to the Herald duo of Jackson and Anthony Chiang. Spoelstra reportedly has one year remaining on his contract and now has six Finals appearances on his resume in 15 seasons. The Pistons gave Monty Williams a contract averaging $13MM per season, driving up the market for proven head coaches. Spoelstra’s current salary is believed to be in the $8MM range.
  • Jimmy Butler is averaging 17 points in the series after posting 24.7 points per game in the conference finals. Butler says he’s “done great” in the series, contributing in other ways, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. “I’m not a scorer. Just because I score a lot of points one game, that doesn’t make you a scorer. I’m not a volume shooter. I don’t do any of that,” he said. “I don’t press to score. I only press to win. If I pass the ball every possession, if we win, I don’t care. If I shoot the ball every possession and we win, I don’t care.”

Heat Notes: Love, Herro, Butler, Adebayo

Erik Spoelstra made an important lineup change that helped the Heat draw even in the NBA Finals, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Kevin Love, who sat out the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals and the first game against the Nuggets, was back in the starting lineup Sunday to counteract Denver’s size advantage.

Love put up modest numbers with six points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes, but the Heat outscored the Nuggets by 18 points while he was on the court. After the game, Spoelstra regretted that he didn’t try the veteran forward in the series opener.

“I didn’t have the foresight; that’s on me,” Spoelstra said. “We just went through what finished the previous series. Clearly we needed that size and physicality that Kevin brings.”

“That’s a great coaching adjustment, putting Kevin Love in the starting lineup,” Kyle Lowry added. “… Kevin is the ultimate pro. He changed our locker room with his energy and effort.” 

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Tyler Herro still hasn’t received medical clearance, but there are reports that he might be ready when the series resumes Wednesday night in Miami, Jackson adds. Herro was able to practice with the team on Saturday. “We’re really encouraged by the progress,” Spoelstra said. “He started doing contact work as soon as we got to Denver. We have to maintain perspective. We want to be responsible about this. We’re all excited and encouraged by his progress, but we’ll get back to Miami. All we’re doing is sticking to the process, trying to stack positive days, also understanding this is not trying to return to a game in December. This is the Finals. So there is a little bit of context to this.”
  • Jimmy Butler spent Saturday night working on his shot with personal trainer Chris Brickley, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. He concentrated on taking the ball inside in Game 2, Shelburne notes, with 14 of his 19 shots coming from within 18 feet of the basket. He also got to the line five times after not shooting any free throws in the opener. “He just likes figuring things out,” Brickley said. “When he’s making those short shots, everything is different. So we worked on it.”
  • Bam Adebayo has been Miami’s best player through the first two games of the series, states Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Adebayo delivered 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks on Sunday after a 26-point performance in Game 1 while matching up with Nikola Jokic. “Bam, we just can’t say enough of how difficult his responsibilities are in this series,” Spoelstra said. “To take arguably the toughest cover in the league for all the myriad of reasons that I don’t need to get into, and then he has to shoulder a big offensive role for us as well.”

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.

Heat Notes: Highsmith, Herro, Injuries, Strus, Love

Haywood Highsmith may see consistent minutes throughout the NBA Finals after scoring 18 points in the series opener, writes Peter Baugh of The Athletic. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra played Highsmith more than 23 minutes off the bench in Game 1 and trusted him to share the responsibility of guarding Jamal Murray.

Earning playing time hasn’t been easy for the third-year swingman, who was barely used for most of the Eastern Conference Finals. He had a breakthrough performance when he scored 15 points in 36 minutes in Game 5 against Boston.

The 26-year-old has taken an unconventional road to the NBA Finals, playing at a Division II college and then being waived three times by the Sixers. Miami gave him an opportunity with a 10-day contract last season, and he earned two more before signing a three-year deal. He takes pride in being one of seven undrafted players on the team’s roster.

“(The Heat) see something in us that nobody else saw in us as undrafted guys, kind of like hidden gems,” Highsmith said. “They believe in us, and they do a great job with developing us and taking us up under their wing and just making us be the best players we can be.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Tyler Herro has been declared out for Game 2, but that doesn’t mean it’s certain that he won’t play, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson states that NBA rules allow teams to change the status of injured players, so Herro could be activated before Sunday night if he continues to make progress in his recovery from hand surgery. Jackson adds that Caleb Martin is listed as questionable with an illness that the team describes as a head issue, and Cody Zeller is questionable with a sprained right foot.
  • Jimmy Butler hasn’t lost faith in Martin and Max Strus, who combined to shoot 1-of-17 in Game 1, Jackson adds. Butler said he’ll still set them up for the same shots, and Strus remarked that he’s eager to put his scoreless night behind him. “You can’t dwell on it,” he said. “Luckily, it was only Game 1 so we got more to play. But I’m ready. I wanted to play right after the game was over.”
  • In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Kevin Love offers his perspective as a relative newcomer to Heat culture after signing with the team in February. “I think it’s definitely a level of focus and professionalism, attention to detail and winning at all costs, that is not always the case (with other teams),” Love said. “Or there’s moments throughout the season (where you have that focus with other teams), but this is all-in for all 82. And then after that, it’s taking it up even another notch. And I’ve felt that, and understood that, and I’ve only been here for three months.”

Heat Notes: Herro, Butler, Love, Vincent

Heat guard Tyler Herro may return at some point during the NBA Finals, but he has been officially ruled out for Thursday’s Game 1, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro has been sidelined since breaking two fingers in his right hand in Miami’s playoff opener on April 16. He underwent surgery five days later and has said that he’s targeting Game 3 next Wednesday as a possible return date.

Coach Erik Spoelstra explained that Herro still hasn’t participated in any contact drills, which are required before he can be cleared to return.

“He’s still just starting this process,” Spoelstra said. “We have a few days here to continue his work. I can’t make any proclamation until he makes these next important steps of contact and doing more on the court live. We’re all encouraged by his progress but still want to continue to be responsible and make the best decisions.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler is very happy to be in Miami, calling his situation “a match made in heaven,” per Jackson. He credits Heat legend Dwyane Wade for encouraging him to join the franchise earlier in his career. “I’m not perfect, but I’m me,” Butler said. “My style of leadership works here. More than anything I have to give a shout out to D-Wade. He always told me this culture fits who I am and how I go about things. … I love it here and I hope to be here.”
  • Neither Kevin Love nor Cody Zeller played in Game 7 against Boston, but Spoelstra may need to use both big men while trying to match up with Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Jackson adds. Love said he didn’t object to Spoelstra’s decision to replace him in the starting lineup during the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. “It made perfect sense to me, honestly,” Love said. “I was eager and wanted to play and kept myself ready. But those matchups, how they took Robert Williams out of the starting lineup and decided to go small, that’s … how it works in the playoffs. I felt I made my impact in two games and maybe one quarter.”
  • Gabe Vincent talks to Sean Cunningham of KTXL about making his second trip to the NBA Finals and getting the opportunity to play this time (Twitter link).

Jimmy Butler Named Eastern Conference Finals MVP

Jimmy Butler has been named the Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to the NBA (via Twitter).

The Heat stymied the Celtics’ bid to become the first NBA team to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0. Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals as Miami thumped Boston on the Celtics’ home court by a score of 103-84.

For the series, Butler averaged 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists as the eighth-seeded Heat continued their improbable postseason run. The only other No. 8 seed to reach the Finals was the 1999 Knicks. This year’s Finals will begin at Denver on Thursday.

Caleb Martin certainly made a strong case for Eastern Conference MVP with his 26-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 7. Martin averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while making 48.9% of his 3-point attempts over the course of the series. Butler edged out Martin 5-4 in the voting by the media panel (Twitter link).

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Backup Centers, Vincent

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo understand that they need to play better for the Heat to win Monday night’s Game 7 in Boston, write Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami’s heartbreaking loss on Saturday featured wildly inefficient performances from its two stars, who combined to shoot 24.3% from the field. Even though he came close to a triple-double, Butler made just 5-of-21 shots and he took responsibility for the one-point defeat.

“Like I told the guys on the bench, I told the guys in the locker room, that if I play better, we’re not even in this position, honestly speaking,” Butler said. “And I will be better. That’s what makes me smile, because those guys follow my lead. So when I’m playing better, I think we’re playing better as a whole.”

Both Butler and Adebayo, who was 4-for-16, dismissed the idea that injuries are catching up to them. Butler suffered a sprained right ankle in the opener of the Heat’s second-round series, and Adebayo has been dealing with shoulder and hamstring issues.

“I see no excuses for that,” Adebayo said. “You know, when you want something as special as a championship, I feel like every guy in our locker room would go through a brick wall to get that.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Cody Zeller saw all the backup center minutes on Saturday as Kevin Love remained on the bench, Jackson and Chiang add. Neither player has been effective in the series, with the Heat getting outscored by 20 points in Love’s 61 minutes and by 21 points in Zeller’s 56 minutes.
  • Miami will make history one way or the other tonight, either as the first play-in participant to reach the NBA Finals or the first team in league history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead. Heat players insist they won’t be intimidated by that potential infamy as they approach Game 7, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “You’re going to get the same test until you pass it, I swear,” Butler said, referring to last season’s Game 7 between the two teams. “We were in this same position last year. We can do it. I know that we will do it. … We have got to go on the road and do something special.”
  • Gabe Vincent is back on the Heat’s injury report, being listed as questionable for Game 7 with a sprained left ankle, Winderman tweets. Vincent was a game-time decision in Game 6, but he played 41 minutes and contributed 15 points and four rebounds.

Celtics/Heat Notes: Game 6, Brogdon, Vincent, Lowry, White

Even if the Celtics don’t end up completing their comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference Finals, they can put the Heat in an unprecedented position by winning Game 6 on Saturday, writes Law Murray of The Athletic.

As Murray details, of the 150 NBA teams to fall behind by a 3-0 margin in a best-of-seven playoff series, only three forced a Game 7, and all three of those clubs had to play Game 7 on the road. If the Celtics can win Game 6 tonight in Miami, they’ll head back to Boston for Game 7 and become the first team in league history to attempt to win a series at home after losing the first three games.

[RELATED: Poll: Will Celtics Complete Eastern Finals Comeback?]

The Heat have shown an ability to win playoff games away from home, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic, noting that Jimmy Butler scored 47 points to lead Miami to a victory in Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago. Still, Butler and the Heat face significant pressure to finish off the series on Saturday to avoid having to go back on the road to win a Game 7.

Here’s more on the Heat and Celtics:

  • Despite losses in Games 4 and 5, Butler remains optimistic about the Heat’s ability to finish off the Celtics and earn a spot in the NBA Finals, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. “Because the last two games are not who we are,” Butler said after Thursday’s loss when asked why he’s still so confident. “It just happened to be that way. We stopped playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make. But that’s easily correctable. You just have to come out and play harder from the jump. Like I always say, it’s going to be all smiles, and we are going to keep it very, very, very consistent, knowing that we are going to win next game.”
  • Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon, who left Game 5 in the second half due to what was referred to at the time as right forearm soreness, is listed as questionable to play in Game 6 with a forearm strain. The banged-up veteran is already reportedly playing through a partially torn tendon in his right elbow.
  • Like Brogdon, Heat point guard Gabe Vincent is considered questionable to play on Saturday, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Vincent missed Game 5 due to a left ankle sprain, forcing Kyle Lowry to reenter the starting lineup for the first time in this postseason. Lowry was effective in the first two rounds but has struggled against the Celtics, averaging just 4.3 points and 4.0 assists per game on 29.2% shooting in the last four games.
  • Celtics guard Derrick White helped lift Boston to a Game 5 win with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting (including 6-of-8 three-pointers). Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at how White’s career night was rooted in a message from his father, and passes along several quotes from White’s teammates that reflect their appreciation for him.

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Spoelstra, Herro

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the Heat‘s leading scorers in the postseason, but their ability to get their teammates involved and make sure Miami’s role players stay aggressive has been crucial to the team’s playoff success, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

While Butler and Adebayo have combined to average 48 points per game in the playoffs, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Kyle Lowry, and Duncan Robinson have exceeded that figure as a group, averaging a total of 55 points per contest.

“They could easily take every shot they wanted to now, with guys down, guys like Tyler (Herro) that are out,” Martin said of the Heat’s stars. “That just shows the belief they have in us. And asking where the confidence comes from, a lot of it stems from those two guys, just believing in us and getting us open looks and believing we’ll knock them down, whether we make or miss, continue to make the right plays.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The NBA announced in a brief press release on Tuesday afternoon that Butler has been fined $25K for violating league rules related to media interview access. Butler didn’t take part in his required post-game media availability following Game 3 on Sunday.
  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra may prefer to give his players the credit for Miami’s deep playoff run, but he deserves major recognition for the part he has played, William Guillory writes for The Athletic. “I can’t say I’ve been coached by somebody who moves like him,” Heat forward Kevin Love said. “He’s so committed to every facet. There’s no detail left unturned. His attention to detail is there, and he’s not a micromanager at all. He lets us play free. He lets us do our thing and allows us to be unapologetically ourselves.”
  • Heat guard Tyler Herro was cleared to resume non-contact basketball activities on Tuesday as he continues to make his way back from a broken right hand, according to Chiang of The Miami Herald. When Herro underwent surgery on April 21, the team announced he would miss at least six weeks — the six-week mark would be on June 2, while the NBA Finals will tip off on June 1. Still, while the possibility of Herro returning in the Finals hasn’t been ruled out, it’s not necessarily considered likely, Chiang says.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Horford, White, G. Williams, Tatum

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla turned around the series with the Sixers by inserting Robert Williams in the starting lineup alongside Al Horford, but that pairing hasn’t been effective against Miami, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. In the 14 minutes that they’ve played together in the conference finals, Williams and Horford are getting outscored by 51.6 points per 100 possessions, which has made a difference in two close losses.

With the two big men on the floor together, Jimmy Butler has searched for opportunities to draw Williams away from the basket, Himmelsbach adds, and Horford has been outplayed by Bam Adebayo. After Game 1, Mazzulla was hesitant when asked whether he planned to stick with the two-big lineup, but they were both starters again Friday night. However, they played less than five minutes together as Mazzulla didn’t go back to that lineup after the Heat took an early lead.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Himmelsbach’s recommendation for Game 3 is to put Derrick White in the starting lineup and give him more minutes in general. He notes that White is an All-Defensive Team selection who blocked two shots by Butler in Game 2. He makes Boston a better shooting team as well, hitting 6-of-10 three-point attempts in the series. White played just 23 minutes on Friday and hasn’t topped that figure in the Celtics’ last four games.
  • Mazzulla isn’t upset about Grant Williamstrash-talking incident with Butler in the fourth quarter Friday, even though Butler responded by leading Miami’s game-winning rally, per Brian Robb of MassLive. The exchange overshadowed a nice bounce-back performance from Williams, who made 4-of-6 shots after not being used in the series opener. “I mean, he didn’t do anything wrong necessarily,” Mazzulla said. “So, I don’t think it’s emotions getting the best of him.”
  • The Celtics’ biggest concern is the continued lack of production late in games from Jayson Tatum, observes Matt Vautour of MassLive. Tatum didn’t make a shot from the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 1 or 2, leaving his teammates to try to carry the scoring load.