Jimmy Butler was the star of the show tonight, finishing the game with 27 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and a block, while shooting a season-high 3-of-4 from downtown.
With about five minutes remaining in the game, Toronto’s Norman Powell brought the game to within two points, leading to Butler’s takeover. Butler proceeded to hit a 3, steal the ball from Powell then hit a driving layup to bring the Heat up seven. The star forward scored 14 of his 27 points in the last five minutes of the game.
Butler’s shooting was indicative of the team’s overall performance from that mark as it finished shooting 44.7% from deep. All Heat rotation players except for Bam Adebayo, Precious Achiuwa and Kelly Olynyk hit at least one 3-pointer.
The Heat’s strong 3-point outing was matched by Toronto, as the Raptors hit 20 3s and saw 24-point performances from Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry, but it wasn’t enough.
Six of Miami’s nine rotation players finished in double-digits and all players ended with at least one score. Duncan Robinson continued to shoot the leather off the ball, as he finished with 17 points and four 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo took not being named an All-Star personally, as he dominated Toronto with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Six of Adebayo’s 12 rebounds were on the offensive glass, aiding Miami’s 42-32 rebounding advantage.
Goran Dragic returned to the lineup for the Heat and looked spry after not playing since Feb. 5. “The Dragon” ended the game with 15 points, adding to an overall impressive bench performance by the Heat, even without Tyler Herro.
Also off the bench, Andre Iguodala hit four 3-pointers for 12 points while Gabe Vincent hit three 3-pointers, finishing with 11 points. Even the players that weren’t scoring for the Heat found ways to impact the game. Olynyk shot poorly from deep but added seven points and, more importantly, seven rebounds and four assists.
Kendrick Nunn had an equally impressive game, getting three early assists en route to a seven-assist game. While Nunn is an excellent scorer for the Heat, he’ll be able to make a more long-lasting impact if he’s able to expand upon the playmaking that he flashed tonight.
Miami’s win brings the team to a 15-17 mark, finally pushing the Heat into the playoff picture at the seventh seed and surprisingly, to first in the Southeast Division. With a seemingly lighter schedule after the All-Star break, Miami going on this impressive stretch has huge implications for what it can accomplish the rest of the season.
Next up, the Heat will take on the Utah Jazz in a rematch of an earlier February game, in which Miami lost by 18 points. Utah is a whopping 25-6, so a win would obviously be a major confidence builder and stepping stone. That game is Friday, Feb. 26, with tipoff set for 8 p.m. Be sure to follow along at Hot Hot Hoops!