Jimmy Butler Slams 'Soft' Heat; 'I Don't Know What Team Is Going to Show Up'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2021

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) gestures during a NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler made his feelings clear Friday regarding the Miami Heat's inconsistent play this season.

On the heels of a 119-111 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, Butler told reporters"I can't tell you which way we're going to go. I don't know what team is going to show up on any given night."

Butler also called the Heat "soft" and added:

"It's not frustrating because we do it so often. It's almost like it's expected, in a bad way to put it. We just think we're such a good team, and then reality hits us, we're humbled. And I'm glad, because that's what this game does for you. Home, away, no matter what opponent you're playing against, you just stroll into the game thinking you're nice, you're good. This is what happens."

The Heat have lost three games in a row, and with a 28-28 record, they are seventh in the Eastern Conference, which was unexpected given that they reached the NBA Finals last season.

Last season, both Butler and center Bam Adebayo were All-Stars and helped make Miami one of the surprise teams of the season, getting to the Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Heat entered 2020-21 expected to be among the teams vying for an Eastern Conference title along with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.

Miami has not proved worthy of that distinction, though, and finds itself in a less-than-ideal position. The Heat occupy a playoff spot, but if the regular season were to end today, they would have to compete in the play-in round.

From a statistical perspective, Butler is enjoying arguably the best season of his career with 21.4 points, 7.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

Adebayo is also putting up big numbers with 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per contest, but Butler called for the talented center to play tougher basketball: "I want Bam to attack the rim because nobody can stay in front of him. Nobody can stay in front of him. Go. You're going to get fouled or you're going to dunk on somebody. That's cool. I love him shooting mid-range jump shots too, but he lets people off the hook. Play bully ball. I like bully ball."

The loss to Minnesota was especially disappointing for Butler and the Heat since the Timberwolves entered the game with the worst record in the NBA.

They now own the second-worst record at 15-42, but they are undoubtedly a team the Heat should defeat with relative ease.

Miami still has a supremely talented roster capable of going on a deep run should everything come together, but based on Friday's performance, the Heat are nowhere near where they need to be to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.