The Miami Heat resumed their regularly scheduled programming on Saturday afternoon for Game 3 of their second-round series against the New York Knicks. In other words, fans were treated to the Jimmy Butler Show once again as the South Beach crew cruised to its sixth playoff win in eight tries, beating Julius Randle and Co. by a 105-86 mark.
Having missed Game 2 after rolling his ankle in the series opener, Butler was back in the lineup for head coach Erik Spoelstra. And while there were some clear signs of rust from the six-time All-Star, he still finished with a game-high 28 points on a night where points were hard to come by (both teams shot under 40% from the field).
Butler didn’t do so without incident, however, as a fall during the third quarter left the baller limping.
That said, Spoelstra did his best to dispel any concerns about a potential thigh injury to Miami’s bell cow during his postgame media availability.
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Declares Jimmy Butler’s Latest Injury to Be a Non-Issue
In speaking to reporters after his squad beat the Knicks at Kaseya Center (to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series), Spoelstra made a point to pour cold water on the notion that Butler would be impacted by his fall moving forward.
“He’s fine,” Spoelstra insisted. “Like, he’s not even icing [his thigh]. It was one of the little stingers that you just need like three plays and then it wears off. He could have gone back earlier… he said, ‘If this thing gets to whatever, put me back in there.’ And we kept on making plays to keep them at bay. Then it finally got to 14 and then you can’t mess around with it, but he was he was fine and ready to go.”
As Spoelstra sees it, that level of grit is the very fabric of postseason hoops, and he’s seeing it from both teams.
“That’s what you have to respect about the players on both sides. Everybody’s putting themselves out there. It’s just great competition.”
Coach Spo Shouts Out Butler & His Supporting Cast for Getting the Job Done
Asked about what it meant to have Butler — who entered the game with a playoff scoring average of 35.5 points per game — back in the fold, Spoelstra made it clear that the return affected everyone on the roster.
“You can’t put an analytic to it, it’s just the overall confidence level your team has that you can always get the ball to them and know that we’ll get something efficient and coherent,” Spoelstra said.
That said, he was careful to note that it was a team win on Saturday and that his club is actually at its best when all of his guys play a part in making things happen.
“We have a bunch of guys stepping up,” Spoelstra added. “We’re more dangerous when a lot of guys are putting their fingerprints on the win and that’s at both ends of the court. But you need a guy like Jimmy also when you’re playing against a good team like this.”