‘Growing Pains’: Heat Discuss Slow Start, Jimmy Butler’s Return

Bam Adebayo

Getty Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo talks it over with Erik Spoelstra, Andre Iguodala, and Duncan Robinson.

Maybe the Miami Heat peaked too soon. They weren’t supposed to make a championship run in Jimmy Butler’s first year in South Beach, right? But they did and now the team is experiencing a few self-admitted “growing pains” as they look to capture the franchise’s fourth NBA title.

The Heat own a 2-3 record while sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Not ideal. But an unforeseen ankle injury for Butler has caused Miami to tinker with their starting lineup on a daily basis. They have trotted out five different lineups in five games to start the year, a mind-blowing fact that has made it extremely hard to find any kind of consistent rhythm.

“We’re not going to figure this out in two days,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said, via Miami Herald. “Coach is doing the best job he can to figure the lineup out, but also make sure our offense is flowing and is doing what it’s supposed to do. I feel like we’ll figure it out and we’ll get better together. We’re going to be alright.”

Adebayo was the lone bright spot in Friday night’s 93-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The All-Star center scored 19 points and pulled down 11 boards. But the box score makes the game look much closer than it was as Dallas held Miami to 37-percent shooting from the floor. It was very much a blowout.

The Heat have been outscored 350-287 in three losses, including a 144-97 walloping by the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 29. And, alarmingly, Miami ranks dead-last in the NBA in turnovers at 19.8 per game.

“It’s growing pains,” Adebayo said, via Miami Herald. “We just got to find something that sticks to us. That’s the bottom line.”

Butler Struggles in Return From Ankle Injury

Butler’s much-anticipated return from a nagging right ankle injury turned out to be a dud. The All-Star guard is clearly not 100% and it showed. He started the night 0-for-6 from the field en route to a dismal stat line: two points, three rebounds, two assists in 27 minutes.

Then again, the whole team struggled from the floor. The Heat set a franchise record by missing 14 straight three-pointers versus Dallas before finally hitting one in the third quarter. They shot 29-of-78 (37.2%) overall and 7-of-33 (21.2%) from beyond the arc. The offense is a work in progress right now.

“We’re not just running a spread pick-and-roll with Jimmy every single time,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, via Miami Herald. “There’s movement, there’s cuts, there’s back cuts, there’s reads and reactions that have to happen.”

Next Up, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Heat will get some much-needed rest over the weekend before returning home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 4. The Thunder are struggling through a 1-4 start so it could be the perfect recipe to jump-start Miami’s offense.

The two teams have split their last four head-to-head matchups, with the Heat last winning 115-108 back on Jan. 17, 2020. The Thunder are coming off a 113-80 drubbing by the New Orleans Pelicans. Al Horford paced Oklahoma City with 17 points and six rebounds, with Mike Muscala adding 10 points off the bench.

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