Two weeks ago, I wrote that the Miami Heat need a major shake-up. Jimmy Butler had returned for two games since his extended absence due to the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Heat still weren’t playing well.
And then Miami won four straight games, defeating the Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Butler was playing at a high level. He nearly recorded triple-doubles in Miami’s two wins over the Knicks and got one in the Heat’s road win over Houston — 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
And now Miami has dropped their last two games, falling to 11-16 on the season. Of course, Miami wasn’t favored to defeat the Utah Jazz, the NBA’s top team this season. But the Heat went two long stretches — one more than five minutes of game time, the other more than six minutes — without scoring one point. Miami didn’t even look competitive for the entire second half. Butler also had his first bad game since his return.
And then, the Heat played a Los Angeles Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard, Paul Geroge and Patrick Beverley. Miami had Butler back — the excuse some gave for Miami losing to a depleted Clippers team last month.
And Butler did his job. He registered another triple-double, scoring 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line. He grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. And it wasn’t enough against Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac.
Buckets did his part in the first half— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 16, 2021
16 Pts / 5 Rebs / 5 Asts / 1 Stl pic.twitter.com/RzPx79JghM
The Heat have had a top-10 defense this season, but Morris scored 26 points in the first half. Zubac went 9-for-11 from the field. Amir Coffey — who had never before even attempted more than two 3s in a NBA game — went 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
And then there was the other side of the court. The Heat shot just 8-for-36 (22.2 percent) from 3. Duncan Robinson was just 3-for-11. Kelly Olynyk and Kendrick Nunn combined to go 0-for-8. Both of the Heat’s stars, Butler and Bam Adebayo, are non-shooters, so the supporting cast has to knock down 3s for Miami’s offense to work.
During the regular season last year, four Heat players shot better than 40 percent from 3 — Robinson, Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk. Herro was right under 40 percent, and Dragic also shot a respectable 37 percent.
This year, Robinson has now fallen to be just under 40 percent. Dragic, Olynyk and Herro have fallen to the mid-30s (though Herro shot 4-of-10 from downtown last night). Only Max Strus, who is shooting 42 percent, has exceeded expectations.
Right now, Miami is in danger of wasting a year of Butler’s prime. The Heat still need a major shake-up. The season still hangs in the balance.