Jimmy Buckets is Heating Up

Jimmy Buckets is Heating Up

The proclamations and reports of Jimmy Butler’s demise in Miami were greatly exaggerated. All is well in Miami and Jimmy Butler is every bit the playoff assassin that we remember from the bubble! The national media has been slow and sometimes downright resistant to giving the Miami Heat their due, but now it feels like Jimmy and the Heat are slowly forcing everyone to take account of what we here in Heat nation have known all along: this team earned the #1 seed in the East and are a legit championship contender.

Since the playoffs rolled around, TNT has been forced to carry both Miami Heat games as nationally televised double header opening matchups. As a result, the rest of the world is coming to the realization that the Heat are indeed a good team. Some are actually mouth wide open admitting that the Heat might actually be a scary team. The advanced metrics support the fact that the Heat have one of the top-rated defensive teams in the association and are good enough offensively in the half court while being elite in transitional offense. But who needs advanced metrics when the Heat so easily pass the eye test? It’s clear to see that this team is balanced and has a deep ensemble roster capable of making a deep playoff run.

To paraphrase the great coach Erik Spoelstra, people are too focused on narratives and like to define success in the NBA in the playoffs through a typical connoted conventional box. The Heat’s lack of a “superstar” seems to be the overriding theme that folks quote to present their argument for why the Heat shouldn’t be considered a legit contender. If you don’t have a player or two that chucks up 30 shots a game every game, then apparently you are not allowed into the contender club. I reference the 2014 Spurs. The 2004 Pistons. There is more than one way to cook chicken and there is more than one way to win an NBA championship. Sometimes a balanced team can get it done too.

Jimmy Butler and the Heat are breaking the mold of perceptions, which is that the Heat are an offensively fragile team that only made the run in the 2020 bubble because they were the only team capable of elevating their level to the degree they did in the conditions of the bubble while everyone else was mentally too fragile to manage the isolation and lack of crowd noise in the bubble. Jimmy Butler is not a closer. Jimmy Butler can’t get you a bucket in crunch time when you need one in the slowed down half court grind that is the playoffs. Setting aside these rubbish takes that totally ignore Jimmy Butler’s body of work in the playoffs in Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Miami- it’s also lazy analysis to devalue a team’s run to the Finals because of the venue it occurred in while giving a pass to teams who couldn’t excel in that venue. If you’re playing on Mars before a galactic audience or in an L.A. Fitness with just you and the homies, the rim is still 10 feet tall and you still have to beat a team four times out of seven three times to advance in the Finals in the NBA playoffs. So, let’s dispense with the idiotic “bubble guppies” talk surrounding the Heat. These are debunked myths that should never be repeated again by any competent basketball analyst. The Miami Heat are a real team loaded with a roster full of dogs who all have chips the size of boulders on their shoulders and Jimmy Butler is a real baller. Period.

Now that we have addressed these ridiculous national media narratives, lets address some actual basketball. The Heat are up 2-0 in the series against Atlanta because their defense is simply too good to be destroyed by a small point guard running pick & rolls and shooting deep 3s from the half court logo. Trae Young is complaining about how physical the Heat defense is playing him and has basically conceded that unless the refs start blowing their whistle more, he won’t be able to do much in this series. Welcome to the playoffs against the Miami Heat my boy!! This is what it is and what it looks like. Trae’s comments let’s me know that this is the first time he has experienced a real physical playoff defense, which is the only way the Heat play.

Most of game 1 and game 2, the majority of the Heat’s main rotation were in big time foul trouble. So, the referees are actually blowing their whistles, the Hawks are getting to the free throw line a lot- but the officials can’t call everything. Trae should be careful what he asks for though, because when the refs called a few ticky tack fouls on Bam early in the 2nd half, Coach Spo had to go uber small by bringing Caleb Martin in the game and moving Tucker to the 5. That unexpected emergency circumstance ended up being a major positive for the Heat because Caleb absolutely erased Trae Young from the game in that 3rd quarter and the Heat started to finally get some separation in game 2.

Ice Trae has been ice cold in this series. Shooting a paltry 3 for 17 from deep and having way more turnovers than he has assists in this series. The Heat defense should absolutely be credited for this. They have shown Trae multiple looks. The Heat have trapped him with random doubles, they have switched Bam and Tucker onto him, they have shot the gaps, they have dropped off him, they have blitzed him, they have sent Jimmy Butler at him one-on-one, and they have had Gabe Vincent pick him up full court and harrass him all the way up the 94 feet journey. It has clearly adversely affected Young who picked up a technical foul because he told the referee he was “f**king trash” for calling an offensive foul on him and giving him one of his ten turnovers in Tuesday night’s game.

The Heat lead with their defense and Jimmy Butler is a two-way player who creates a lot of turnovers. So, I tend to focus more on the defense, however, when a guy goes off for 45 points (on a crazy efficient 15 of 25 from the field, 4 of 7 from deep, and 11 of 12 from the charity stripe), 5 rebounds, and 5 assists with. o turnovers for only the 3rd time in franchise playoff history- we definitely have to talk about that! Jimmy Effin Butler was in attack mode and was absolutely dynamic in a game where he needed to be because Nate McMillan and the Hawks made a conscious decision to take away the others and dared Jimmy to beat them in space- and that he did!

Kudos to the Heat coaching staff for anticipating this Hawks adjustment and empowering Jimmy the night before the game to be a killer and be aggressive to look for his shots. Jimmy Buckets happily obliged, scored his playoff career high, and did something that only Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have done in the 34-year history of the team. The Heat also made the adjustment in the 2nd half to start coming up with the loose balls in those 50/50 ball situations after a ruckus halftime meeting where according to Kyle Lowry, Spo told the players to “get the effin balls …pause.” The Heat came up with those 50/50 balls in the 2nd half and Jimmy Butler had 24 second half big points including a fadeaway 3 and a euro step layup in the final 2 minutes to break the game open and get the win. As a result, the Miami Heat are up 2-0 as the series shifts to Atlanta and the Miami will need to keep that same energy to try and crush Atlanta’s dreams in State Farm arena in game 3.

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