The Miami Heat‘s original starting lineup being nearly back to full health which is wonderful news, but based on how the team has performed without its star core duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it’s clear the roster has enough depth to win without them.
During the Heat’s 104-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday, January 17, Adebayo played for the first time since November 29. In his 22-game absence, the team posted a 14-8 record.
As for Butler, the Heat went 12-6 while he was injured with a bruised tailbone. With both All-Stars out, the team went into full “next-man-up” mode, Butler said, during his postgame conference on Monday night.
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The Heat’s usual bench warmers almost seamlessly stepped up into starting roles, allowing reserve players such as Omer Yurtseven, Max Strus, and emergency fill-in turned newly-signed two-way player Kyle Guy to shine.
Butler, during his first game back against the Atlanta Hawks on January 14, scored 23 points, 10 assists, two steals, and one block — does not need to worry about job security. However, he was only half-joking while discussing how his teammates were not exactly pining for his return.
“I mean, the conversation between me and Bam was like damn, ‘We can’t wait to get back.’ But it seemed like whenever I texted one of my teammates, they would always say something along the lines of ‘We don’t need, you. We’re winning without you.’ Especially, Dewayne [Dedmon]. He’s an honest guy.”
During the Heat’s win against the Raptors, Butler completed another triple-double, scoring 19 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Guard Tyler Herro led the team in scoring with 23 points.
Butler Acknowledged ‘It Sucks’ How His & Adebayo’s Return Directly Affects Other Players’ Minutes
While it may offense certain players to have their teammates not begging for their return, for Butler, he loves that confidence. The 32-year-old wing finds solace in knowing his team is full of hungry players that stay ready and who can genuinely hoop.
One rookie, in particular, Omer “O” Yurtseven, impressed Butler. He stepped up big time while both Adebay and Dedmon were out, even starting 10 games. Yurtseeven tallied double-digit rebounds in 14 consecutive games, but with both Dedmon and Adebayo back, he never got up off the bench during Monday night’s game.
“These guys are so confident with that ‘next man up’ mentality,” Butler noted. “But like I said, we got guys that can hope that can go. And it really sucks because when guys come back (like himself and Bam), as confident as some guys are, like O didn’t play tonight, but yeah he deserves to. It’s just hard. There’s not enough minutes to go around, but his chance will come again.”
Spoelstra Said It’s ‘Tough’ Deciding Who Will Get Minutes Each Game
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra also spoke about Yurtseven during the postgame game conference. “Omer is fully on our minds and there were a couple times in this game where I thought about throwing him in there,” Spoelstra said. “He’ll continue to work and prepare, and he’ll be ready for his next opportunity.”
Spoelstra admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision to pick Dedmon over Yursteven on Monday night, but Demon’s main job has always been to be Adebayo’s main backup.
“These are tough decisions,” Spoelstra said, per Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang. “We’ll continue to use our full roster as needed. But we have to make some decisions right now to get everybody comfortable, confident and in rhythm.”