Erik Spoelstra Sounds Off on Referees After Controversial Heat Loss

Erik Spoelstra Miami Heat

Getty Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

The first of four straight home games for the Miami Heat did not go according to plan on January 8. Miami lost a heartbreaker to the streaking Brooklyn Nets 102-101, after Jimmy Butler failed to convert on a last-second drive. The play sparked controversy due to the referee’s decision not to blow the whistle as Butler drew contact from Nets forward Royce O’Neale.

Butler’s drive came just seconds after O’Neale sank a go-ahead layup on the other end.

During his post game media availability, Head Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t hold back. He called out the officials for missing what he felt was an obvious foul call.

“I thought Jimmy just made the absolute right play. I think in this game alone he could’ve six to eight more free throw attempts…I don’t think he (O’Neale) was vertical. I don’t think he was set,” Spoelstra said. “That earned the right to go to the free throw line and see if he could’ve won the game.”

The press also asked Butler about his attempted game-winner. He took the diplomatic approach and put the responsibility on himself, rather than the officials.

“Nah, I should’ve made it,” Butler explained. “I think we definitely got the look that we wanted, I just gotta make that.”

The 33-year-old finished the game as Miami’s top scorer. He totaled 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in 34 minutes for the Heat. On the season, Butler is averaging 21.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game.

Jimmy Butler Shares Update on Nagging Knee Injury

Jimmy Butler has done all of that while battling a right knee injury for the last few months. He recently gave an update on his knee, providing some positive news.

“It is,” Butler said when asked if his knee was trending in the right direction. “Because I can go out there and compete. I can’t say that I’m fully healthy. But there are a lot of people that are not. So, I think that’s good on a lot of levels. The more rest that I have and able to get that recovery that I need is always going to be better. So, hell, whenever I’m not playing, I’m doing something to try to get it right.”

The numbers Butler has been able to post while dealing with the nagging knee pain have impressed fans voting for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. He was fifth amongst frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference for total votes. Butler only trailed megastars like Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Jayson Tatum in the first voting return.

Tyler Herro Gives Crucial Injury Update

The Miami Heat have been plagued with injuries throughout the 2022-23 season. Butler, as well as Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo have all missed at least 10 games due to various injuries. Tyler Herro gave fans a bit of a scare at the end of the Nets game when he slipped and appeared to hurt his knee on the final play.

Heat fans can take a sigh of relief because Herro cleared the air during his post-game availability.

“I had slipped, the floor was wet… and I unexpectedly fell,” the 22-year-old explained. “I’m good, I’m good.”

Herro would be a big loss for an already injury-plagued Miami team. This season he’s averaging a career-high in points per game at 21.2, rebounds per game at 6, and assists per game at 4.4. Losing the recently-extended guard during a career season would be less than ideal for the Heat.

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