Jimmy Butler knows when and how to jump-start the Miami Heat. Sometimes the star forward uses bold actions to motivate his own teammates and other times, he lobs fiery diatribes at his opponents.
Butler scored 25 points in 36 minutes during Friday’s 121-112 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was two rebounds and four assists shy of recording his fifth triple-double, too. But it was the way he ripped into Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns that had people talking.
Twitter user Thomas Sullivan caught Butler calling Towns “soft as baby s***” after a foul that sent teammate Bam Adebayo to the free-throw line. He also told Towns: “You’re a loser. I already punked you once.” The viral exchange seemed to be retribution for a cheap shot from Towns on Butler back on April 16.
Butler didn’t address that specific incident after the game but he did express how much his Heat teammates meant to him. He’s always trying to motivate them and defend their honor. The five-time All-Star missed back-to-back games due to flu-like symptoms (not COVID-19).
“I play the way I do because of those guys, I really do,” Butler told reporters. “They’re down in the trenches with me. I’m down in the trenches with them every day. And everybody is putting their body out there on the line, and if you can go, you gotta go. I’m proud to say that I get to represent this organization with the group of guys that we do have, it’s a blessing. I put it all out there for them and I ride with ’em.”
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Tyler Herro Returns to Heat Rotation
Tyler Herro was supposed to be on a pitch count against Minnesota in his first game back since April 23. He missed six games with a lingering foot issue, so the Heat didn’t want to risk injuring him further. But the 21-year-old came out on fire on Friday night and drilled six 3-pointers in what was his most dominant performance of the season.
“It felt great to get back out there, no one likes missing games, missing time due to injury,” Herro told reporters. “So I was just extremely happy and excited to be back out there on the court with my teammates. You know, it’s that time of year again where we have to really lock in and it’s time to make a run again.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra kept the youngster in for 29 minutes. Herro scored 27 points on 6-of-8 shooting from deep.
“All these best-laid plans are getting tossed to the side at this time of the year,” Spoelstra said. “He’s got young legs and you could tell that he had fresh legs. He was in a great flow and we’ll just recalibrate that tomorrow.”
Goran Dragic, Miami Bench Thriving
Herro wasn’t the only bench player heating up for Spoelstra’s crew. Goran Dragic has been dealing with two separate injuries (lower back, right knee) but exploded for 23 points in 32 minutes on Friday. The Heat bench was once again a catalyst for them after the starters got behind early.
“I think our bench has been playing much better of late and they’ve really actually built on leads,” Spoelstra said. “And, in some instances, those have been the best parts of our games, minutes where our bench has been in.”
The Heat reserves outscored the Timberwolves’ second unit, 57- 19. Dragic and company know every game remaining on the schedule — five of them to be exact — need to be treated with playoff-level intensity.
“I think the second unit is trending better, better than before,” Dragic said. “We picked up our pace a little bit, we’re running more, and I think that helps our team. We still have a lot of work to do. Be more consistent. I think when playoffs come it’s a seven-game series so you going to have to show up every game.”
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