Thursday’s NBA Finals opener saw the Miami Heat fall to the Denver Nuggets 104-93 on a night where they couldn’t buy a basket. As a team, the Heat shot just 40.6% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc.
Following the rough loss in Game 1, star forward Jimmy Butler discussed the team’s struggles from the field, highlighting the quality of shots they were able to create.
“When you look at it during the game, they all look like the right shots,” Butler said via the House of Highlights YouTube channel. “And I’m not saying that we can’t, as a team, make those, but gotta get more layups, gotta get more free throws. … We gotta attack the rim a lot more, myself included.”
He then shifted focus to himself, citing his own lack of aggression as an issue.
“Maybe I got to be a little more aggressive. I got to put more pressure on the rim. Me without any free throws, it’s completely on me.”
Butler finished Game 1 with just 13 points, while shooting 6-of-14 from the field. He was, however, able to impact the game in other ways, securing 7 rebounds and dishing 7 assists against the Nuggets.
Throughout the playoffs, the 33-year-old has been Miami’s most reliable scorer. He’s averaging a playoff-career high of 27.6 points per game on 48.1% shooting from the floor and 36.1% shooting from distance.
Erik Spoelstra Slams Heat’s Effort in First Half vs. Nuggets
Miami wasn’t able to carry over the magic from the Eastern Conference Finals and got off to a slow start in Denver. At halftime, they looked up and saw a 17-point deficit on the scoreboard, trailing the Nuggets 59-42.
Following the disappointing start to the NBA Finals, head coach Erik Spoelstra pointed out that his team’s effort just wasn’t good enough throughout.
“I didn’t even look at the box score yet, but like I said, I think the disposition, the efforts were more appropriate in the second half,” Spoelstra said via the House of Highlights YouTube channel. “But that’s not enough. It has to be for a full game, and you also have to make some plays when you’re beat.”
Like Spoelstra mentioned, his team looked a bit more inspired after the break. They actually outscored Denver by six points in the second half. Miami was able to work the Nuggets’ lead down from 17 points to just nine at one point in the fourth quarter.
Haywood Highsmith Shines During Heat’s Second-Half Surge
A major driving force in Miami’s second-half push in Game 1 was Haywood Highsmith. He scored 12 of his 18 points after halftime, knocking down 5-of-8 attempts in 15 minutes.
He was so impactful that Spoelstra even used him as a reference for how the rest of the players should look to play in the future.
“Yeah, that’s what we need from everybody, regardless of when you come into the game, how many minutes you’re getting, those inspiring minutes,” Spoelstra said of Highsmith. “And that’s what our team is about, having a roster of guys that just come out there and you’re making great efforts, you’re impacting the game and then it inspires the next guy to do it.”