Orlando, Fla. — Nickelback sounds coming from portable speakers inside Miami Heat The locker rooms were unremarkable. as the rest of his teammates and Heat staff quietly showered, dressed and spread postgame pizza after 126-114 overtime loss As far as Orlando Magic on Saturday, Jimmy Butler decided it was the perfect time to turn up the volume on their stereos and blast the familiar sounds of Chad Kroeger’s voice.
And Butler, who had just poured in a game-high 38 points in 39 minutes, sang every word of each song.
Butler had given life to his team by making a difficult 3-pointer over two Magic defenders at the regulation buzzer to send the game into overtime. But, as has become all too common for the likes of the Heat this season, Butler’s performance wasn’t enough to propel the group, which faded on its second night of back-to-back losses.
The young Magic team regrouped after Butler’s regulation buzzer-beater put the game out of reach by holding Butler scoreless in the extra session. As the final 17 seconds of the clock ran out, a frustrated Butler walked off the floor before the game officially ended, causing Miami to suffer a technical foul because – without Butler – the Heat had only four of their own on the court. He was a player. The technical angered Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, but when asked after the game whether he was even aware of the call, Butler replied briefly.
“I don’t give a f—,” he said.
It was a quintessential Jimmy Butler quote. The 33-year-old six-time All-Star will do whatever he wants whenever he wants, whether that means wearing dreadlock extensions at media day, listening to Nickelback after a disappointing loss, then chewing on a general manager opting out of a controversial practice or any many other examples Star-crossed during his 12-year NBA career.
Butler, Joe Chicago Bulls In the 2011 NBA Draft, he has built an incredible career for himself through hard work and determination. In a league full of confident alphas, his belief in himself has always been his defining characteristic. And there’s one thing he values most: winning.
It’s something the Heat, who missed another trip to the Finals last season by a Butler 3-pointer, haven’t done enough this season. After the loss to the Magic, Miami is 36-33 this season entering Monday’s game Utah JazzIn the play-in portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, three games behind sixth place new York Knicks, While Butler is coming off another strong season, he hasn’t received the same level of support from his teammates as he did a year ago.
“He’s One of the Best Players in the NBA,” Veteran Heat Point Guard Kyle Lowry said about Butler. “Both sides of the ball. He’s in his rhythm and he’s in his groove where he’s settling in and playing well. Sometimes these games come at a loss, but we just have to find ways to maximize it. “
Butler is in the midst of one of the strongest stretches of his career. In the 10 games since the All-Star break, Butler averaged 26.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 62.9% from the field. However, the Heat are just 4-6 in that stretch.
The list of players with 25 points, five rebounds and five assists during a single stretch, like Butler has, is a roll call of basketball’s elite: damian lillard, Stephen Curry, luka doncic, jason tatum, Kyrie Irving, Paul George And giannis antetocampo,
For the season, Butler averaged 22.6 points per game, the second highest totals of his career, and was shooting a career-best 52.8% from the field. His 8.4 free throw attempts per game is his third-highest total behind 2016–17 (8.9) and 2019–20, when he took more than 9 free throws per game to lead the Heat to the Finals in the Orlando Bubble. But after finishing first in the East a season ago, Miami is having its worst season since 2018-19 — the last time the Heat didn’t have Butler.
Still, Spoelstra hits back at the notion that the Heat need to do more in the short term to take the pressure off Butler.
“We definitely have enough,” Spoelstra said. “And really our offense is headed in a better direction, and it hasn’t just been Jimmy. It’s our play, our attacks, our finding recognition.”
Lowry, who returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing more than a month due to sore left knee, offered his theory on what the Heat could do to help Butler more.
“Make 3,” he said, laughing. “Make shots. Stop and go in transition and get easy buckets. He’s a physical player, he wants contact, but if we can get out there and give him some possessions where he doesn’t have to get hit and bump and We can give him some relief points, that helps.”
The Heat are shooting 33.7% from the 3-point line this season, good for 28th in the league (Butler himself is shooting 33.3% from 3, which is slightly up from his career mark of 32.2%). . As of Spoelstra’s point, however, he is shooting 39% from beyond the arc in his last five games, which is seventh best in the league over the same period.
For Butler, the bottom line remains — the group isn’t doing enough collectively to get the job done. When asked about his game-tying shot on the Magic forward Wendell Carter Jr., and guard Jalen SuggsButler closed it.
Butler said, “All the making shots in the world didn’t help us win this game.” “Then I don’t care.”
The Heat still have time to turn things around. Seven of their last 13 games are against teams below .500, and they have two games left against the Knicks, the team directly ahead of them in the standings. But if Miami doesn’t move on, the Heat will squander one of Butler’s best seasons ever — and see another year of his dominant fade in the process.
“It sucks that he’s playing so well and we’re not winning the games that we need to,” Lowry said. “Because of the numbers and the things that he’s doing, it’s like MVP caliber-ish right now. With us being ranked seventh, we’re not getting the attention that we should be getting, he’s not getting the attention that he deserves.” [he] Needed I know he doesn’t care, but we have to win matches. There’s going to be a lot of glitter on that.”