Miami Heat notched a big win against the Portland Trailblazers on April 11, the first game of their four-game road trip, and what’s not shocking news to anyone, Jimmy Butler‘s elite performance was a huge factor in the team coming out on top.
The five-time All-Star continues to prove why he should be included in the MVP conversation and during the first quarter of Sunday night’s game, he broke an all-new personal record by notching his 1,000th career steal.
Butler is not only a force on defense, he’s a beast on offense. In addition to having four steals, the 31-year-old forward notched 20 points against Portland, and both of Miami’s last two games against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, he scored 28 points.
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Butler chalks up his defensive prowess to him just doing his job. “The way you do the little things is the way you do everything,” Butler said. “But I feel like if you lead by example, everybody’s got to follow suit. They see one of your best players doing it, they got to be able to do the same thing, because you can’t say that I or Bam [Adebayo] or [Andre Iguodala] or any of those guys aren’t doing it.”
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler’s defensive performance comes from “his competitive fire” as “things matter to him on that side of the floor.”
“It puts him in a natural position to lead defensively, when you have your leading scorer that’s willing to take on great challenges every single night,” Spoelstra said.”But he’s also very disciplined. He’s active. He makes multiple efforts. He knows scouting reports. All these things allow you to build a great defense around his skill set.”
Thus far this season, The Heat are 24-14 when Butler is playing. “You got to make it tough on their guys,” he said. “You got to get in the passing lane, make their passes difficult, contest every shot. I think we did a good job of getting our hands in the way, get some deflections, get some steals and get out into the open floor.”
Adebayo Says Butler Helps Make His Job Easier
Fellow Heat All-Star and teammate Bam Adebayo particularly loves Butler’s aggressive attack on defense.
“I mean, it definitely makes it easier, because all I and Jimmy do is switch the whole game,” Adebayo said. “So it definitely makes the scheme easy when you develop the connection where sometimes it’s just reaction, where I know what he’s going to do on certain schemes when opponents are running it. When you got that connection, it’s always easier for both of us.”
Kendrick Nunn, who started on Sunday night in place of an injured Victor Oladipo, also spoke of the team’s cohesive flow. We try to get each other going as collective effort. At the beginning of the game we got a deflection and Trevor [Ariza] got the steal and turned it into an alley-oop to Bam.”