HomeBasketball TodayUnlocking the Heat's Potential: Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra Share Their Winning...

Unlocking the Heat’s Potential: Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra Share Their Winning Secrets

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Miami is currently 34-26, putting them sixth in the East.

The Miami Heat got a huge win Saturday as they beat the Utah Jazz which was a close game for most of the contests up until the fourth quarter where they took control and handled business. Heat star Jimmy Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke after the game to the media and talked about the victory that makes it 10 of their last 13 outings.

There is no doubt that the Heat pride themselves in playing tough games with any opponent as the phrase “playing in the mud” has been used a lot throughout this season. Even Butler acknowledged that fact and said that he thinks Miami plays “much better whenever the games are close” though mentioning that might not be the way they want.

“I think we play much better whenever the games are close,” Butler said. “Not saying that’s the way that we want these games to go whether they’re at home or away, but I feel like whenever we get in the so called mud, we gets stops, we score whenever we need to. Feel like that’s how playoff basketball is played majority of the times, but more than anything, glad we won on our home floor.”

Butler had arguably his best game of the year as he scored a season-high 37 points while recording seven assists and collected three rebounds. It was a dynamic performance as it showed off how Butler can score from any area whether it be in the paint, mid-range, or even from deep as he made all of his three attempts.

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Spoelstra talks about the difference from the first and second half vs. Jazz

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra watches the action against the Utah Jazz at Kaseya Center.
Peter Joneleit-USA TODAY Sports

Spoelstra touted how unique a team like the Jazz was before the game to ClutchPoints and that was showed during the game as Utah caught Miami by surprise in the first half. However, the Heat would adjust in the second half to take the game away from the opponent as the head coach mentioned they got a “better disposition.”

“Utah is a unique team. I mean, they played really physical offensively. I think Will has put together an offensive system that really just fits our personnel. And they drive hard. They cut hard, they screen hard and then they finish off possessions where at least three guys are going to the glass you know, hard,” Spoelstra said. “So as much as you can try to show it on film, you can talk about it. There’s no way to really prepare for it until you actually feel it and I think that’s what caught us in that first half. But in the second half, it was a better disposition. Much more into how we’ve been playing the last three weeks and then that stretch.”

Friendly fire?

Besides Butler’s excellent performance, there was two other standouts in star Bam Adebayo who despite leaving the game with an injury, came back and handled business with 23 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Known X-Factor Caleb Martin was also integral as he scored 18 points and was even hit in the mouth hard accidentally by Butler and needed to receive six stitches.

Butler talked about the hit:

“The PG 13 way, I got him good. And when I hit him I didn’t know it was him,” Butler said. “But whoever I hit, I knew was leaking and needed stitches because I had hit him smooth on. I just wish it was…let me not say, they will get me, they will try to get me.”

Spoelstra says when Butler and Adebayo are at best, they can beat anyone

In any sense, the duo of Butler and Adebayo commanded the team into victory despite the defensive struggles throughout the game. Spoelstra said after that when those two play with the “competitive spirit” shown in the game, the team feels they can “conquer whatever we need to conquer.”

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“Bam and Jimmy really took off from there. You know, when bam and Jimmy you know play with that competitive spirit and are connected from a competitive standpoint, our guys feel like we can beat anyone that we can conquer, you know, whatever we need to conquer. And they were at their best on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “Caleb has a messed up hand, knocked in the mouth, every play he makes is just a collision here, a collision there. He inspires everybody in our locker room, and he’s just a gamer. He just makes big plays at the right times. That inspires other guys to do the same.”

As mentioned before, the win is just another example of the turnaround Miami is currently in, especially after the seven-game losing skid earlier in the year. Butler humorously forgot about the skid and even said during that time, the team knew what they were capable of accomplishing.

“We good, we don’t talk about losing streaks. I don’t even know what happened,” Butler said. “We’ll be just fine. We see who we are. And we have to continue to like pour into that. So we knew who we were whenever we’re on a losing streak.”

Spoelstra says there “is a better understanding” of victory for Miami

In the eyes of Spoelstra, he has always used the term of “karma” to describe the motivation of playing to their identity. Miami knows what works and how they can recreate the magic from last season of getting to the NBA Finals. Now in the homestretch of the season, they will have to channel that energy.

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“There is a better understanding of what wins for us. We compete and defend, we create the karma we need, if we don’t, we pay the price. I think in the first half we were trying to get a little bit caught up in in the scoring and then we found ourselves down four but when we really locked down and defend with physicality and force and discipline and with a mind, we can accomplish some things,” Spoelstra said. “I think there’s a collective understanding of that and more importantly a commitment to that. It’s not easy. This league is hard. I mean the offenses now are super dynamic. Speed space and pace, makes it challenging for every single team, so the biggest thing you have to wrap your mind around is doing tough things and that doesn’t even guarantee anything but just gives you a better chance at it.”

The Heat are now 34-26 which puts them sixth in the Eastern Conference as the bottom of the play-off eligible teams is tightly packed. Their next game will be Tuesday against the nine-win Detroit Pistons to complete the two-game home stand.

Zachary Weinberger_headshot

About the Author

Zachary Weinberger joined ClutchPoints in October 2023 as a Miami Heat reporter as well as an Associate Editor. He graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2022 after covering the school’s athletic programs since his freshman year at the FAU University Press, where he was a Sports Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He then covered FAU Sports for The Palm Beach Post.


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