Having won consecutive games against the Hawks, the Miami Heat are well on their way to a likely second-round showdown with the Joel Embiid, James Harden and the fourth-seeded Sixers. A number of players have contributed to their 2-0 start against Atlanta, too.
One player has been conspicuous by his absence, though. Namely, two-time NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo.
After closing out the regular season in style with a 40-point bomb versus the Magic, Oladipo has yet to log a single minute of action during postseason play. It’s a development that has caught fans and prognosticators alike off guard.
However, Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless believes there’s a calculated reason for Oladipo being kept on the sidelines. According to his sources, there’s bad blood between the combo guard and Heat star Jimmy Butler, and it has reached the point where the latter doesn’t want to play with the former.
Skip Sounds off on Butler-Oladipo Dynamic
Bayless made the proclamation about Butler’s relationship with Oladipo during a recent episode of his show Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. While discussing Butler’s 45-point outburst in Game 2 against Atlanta, the longtime commentator dropped the following tidbit:
I was told, just quick aside here, [Butler has] got some personal issue that… I do not know exactly what it is, with Victor Oladipo. I’m a big fan of Victor’s, and [he is] one reason I picked Miami to win the whole thing this year…
As Bayless sees it, the 6-foot-4 Oladipo could bolster an already-potent Miami bench attack to the point that the club has an inherent advantage against other playoff teams. However, it’s his understanding that Butler’s personal beef is preventing the baller from being part of the process:
I’m thinking, if you could bring him off the bench with Tyler Herro, do you not have some explosive bench numbers? Right? Manu Ginobili-esque coming off the bench. So, you got some shock troops that could just heat you up for the Heat, if you can use Victor Oladipo…
Both games, he has not seen the light of play. Why is that? Well I was told it’s because Jimmy just flat-out told Spo, ‘I don’t want to share the floor with him.’
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Butler’s Complicated History
Bayless and co-host Shannon Sharpe both expressed that this could be the latest in a series of strange run-ins for Butler. And while there has been no confirmation of a rift between the two Heat stars, Butler definitely has a history of bringing disharmony to different locker rooms.
As recently as February, it was reported that Ben Simmons “virtually disappeared” from the Sixers locker room during Butler’s brief Philly run. Meanwhile, the hostility he showed Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins when the three players teamed up in Minnesota has become the stuff of legend.
It’s difficult to say whether history is repeating itself now with Oladipo. And it’s worth noting that the guard had fallen out of the rotation briefly just before he had his big game. Still, Oladipo’s continued absence remains one of the more curious developments of the playoffs so far.