24/05/2024

Illness keeps Heat’s Jimmy Butler out against Warriors a day after he attended Miami Open

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Illness keeps Heat’s Jimmy Butler out against Warriors a day after he attended Miami Open

The Miami Heat's injury report took an unexpected turn before tipoff, with forward Jimmy Butler ruled out against the Golden State Warriors due to illness.

The Miami Heat's injury report took an unexpected turn before tipoff, with forward Jimmy Butler ruled out against the Golden State Warriors due to illness.

MIAMI — The Miami Heat’s injury report took an unexpected turn Tuesday night, with forward Jimmy Butler ruled out against the Golden State Warriors due to illness.

Butler, who spent much of Monday at the Miami Open, had been listed as probable earlier in the day after missing the morning shootaround at Kaseya Center.

Then, two hours before tip-off in the key matchup for postseason seeding, Butler was downgraded to questionable.

Butler was coming off a 15-point performance in Sunday night’s blowout victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, when he was needed for only 24 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers game was Butler’s third back after missing two due to a bruised right foot.

Tuesday night’s absence was Butler’s 22nd of the season, already ineligible for NBA postseason awards due to the new 65-game requirement.

Since joining the Heat in the 2019 offseason. Butler, 34, has not appeared in more than last season’s 64 games.

Should Butler return for Friday night’s conclusion of this four-game homestand against the Portland Trail Blazers and play each of the remaining games, he would close with 60 appearances this season out of the 82 games.

Butler’s absence came with the Heat already lacking Tyler Herro (foot), Duncan Robinson (back) and Josh Richardson (shoulder).

In addition, Kevin Love (heel) was downgraded from questionable to again being out.

Rozier case for defense

The message from the Heat to Terry Rozier has been the same since his January arrival: simply be yourself. At least that was the message when it came to offense.

The message on the other end was to be more, to also be aggressive on the defensive end, commit to a tag-team approach with center Bam Adebayo.

What had been a work in progress lately has made the needed progression — Rozier up and into his defensive assignment, Adebayo in wait in case help is needed.

“Terry has really worked on his point-of-attack defense for us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, “because he’s smart, he’s understood how important that is to our defense and he’s really been competing there.

“It starts with that. Bam can’t erase everything, if you’re not competing on the ball.”

Ball containment was one of the reasons the Heat first demoted Kyle Lowry and then dealt him to the Charlotte Hornets along with a protected first-round pick for Rozier. Now Spoelstra is seeing a payoff.

“It all works together,” Spoelstra said of his wing defenders at least providing initial resistance. “It tends to look a lot better when Bam’s in there, and that’s obviously a big nod to his abilities. He can play in any scheme and make it look better.”

Rozier said he appreciates what has been required.

“For sure, for sure,” he said, with the Heat hosting the Warriors on Tuesday in the third game of a four-game homestand. “It feels good to have a guy back there that’s going to give it his all and try to protect that rim.”

Rozier said Adebayo’s presence has been inspiring.

“Just trying to make it tough on guys,” Rozier said. “I know he’s going to have my back, but he’s also going to want to protect the rim. He’s great defensively. He’s talking always, always talking to me.

“So it’s been a huge help, knowing I can pressure my man, when I got him back there”

Respect given

With Draymond Green in town, the talk at the morning shootaround was about the irascible Warriors forward and his willingness to play on the edge.

The response, however, was one of respect.

“I don’t play them games. It’s all respect at the end of the day,” Adebayo said, having been a teammate with Green when Team USA won gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Heat forward Caleb Martin echoed the sentiment of respect.

“He competes at a super-high level, Martin said. “He’s passionate about what he does. So it comes with the game. Everybody expresses their passion in different ways, and you just know that’s what comes with him and their team.”

The zone thing

Although the playing time has been limited since being added Feb. 18 from the Washington Wizards on the buyout market, veteran guard Delon Wright has made a tangible impact with his play in the Heat’s zone defense.

“Delon has picked that up really quickly. I mean he should have played at Syracuse rather than Utah,” Spoelstra quipped, in reference to Syracuse’s famed base defense. ” He’s built for this, even though he had a spectacular career at Utah.”

Heat forward Haywood Highsmith said a chemistry already is in place when he plays at the top of the zone alongside Wright.

“He can really move his feet well, pick up 94 feet,” Highsmith said. “I remember when we’re playing against him, he’s doing the same thing to us. Having him at the top of the zone is very difficult to  navigate through.

“Obviously you’ve got me, Caleb, got a lot of guys who can do it. So just having a guy like D-Wright is a big advantage for us. He’s very active, deflections, a lot of activity.”

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