The Miami Heat appear to be on a roll heading into the final few games of the regular season, but team leader Jimmy Butler doesn’t need other people reminding him that those remaining matchups will not be a cakewalk.
During the media conference following the Heat’s win against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night, South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman asked the five-time All-Star, “Are you aware of how tough the schedule is down the close with two against Boston, one against Phile, one against Milwaukee and one against Dallas… I mean, does it almost maybe feel pre-playoffs?”
If anyone is aware of just how important and difficult these final regular-season games are for Miami, it’s Butler.
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“That’s tough… for you?” Butler asked.
“I don’t know. I’m just saying… there’s challenges,” Winderman says.
“Maybe if you’re sorry a** was on our team it would be tough,” Butler responds, losing his ability to keep a straight face. “I think we’ll be just fine.”
“My sorry a** thanks you,” Winderman says, and Butler gives the Heat beat reporter a wink.
“Love you,” Butler says.
This exchange between Jimmy Butler and the reporter 🤣 pic.twitter.com/ec3tb3iazk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 3, 2021
On a more serious note, “We want to be playing your best basketball at the right time,” Butler said, “and I’m praying and hoping that right now is the right time for us to be playing our best basketball.”
While Butler won’t cop to the playoff pressure, teammate Goran Dragic isn’t pulling any punches. The Dragon said that going into their game against Charlotte on May 2, “It felt like the playoffs a little. Our preparation was like that.”
Heat’s Head Coach Admits the Final Stretch of Games Will Be ‘Super Competitive’
While Butler was clearly having fun with the reporter, the sobering reality is that five of Miami’s final seven games are against teams with winning records. Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra admitted that this last stretch is “super competitive” as Miami fights to avoid the playoff play-in round.
“I think this is just a unique season,” Spoelstra said. “I think everybody is really putting out, competing to the end. And, ideally, this is what you want out of the league. You don’t see a lot of teams just resting guys and getting ready for the playoffs.”
Coach Spo also knows that it’s not just the Heat struggling with the pandemic-shortened NBA season, every team is in the same boat. Everyone is tired, but it’s go time.
“I’m sure the whole league feels like that, at least all the teams that are jostling for legitimate playoff positioning,” Spoelstra said. “And if you’re a competitor, which our guys are in the locker room, this is what you want out of this profession.”
Heat center DeWayne Dedmon is pumped for the challenge. “Right now is definitely big playoff implications with every game that we play,” Dedmon said. “So we’re just coming out every game trying to treat it as a playoff game, having to just build that momentum going into the postseason.”
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