Heat Receive Great News With New NBA Schedule Release

Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala

Getty Miami Heat teammates Jimmy Butler and Andre Iguodala have the easiest second-half schedule in the NBA.

The Miami Heat ran their winning streak up to five games after beating the Utah Jazz on Friday night. Jimmy Butler and company should be able to keep “stacking those dubs” looking at the second half of their schedule, too.

After enduring the hardest first-half slate in the league, Miami can take a deep breath and relax while being careful not to take their foot off the gas. The Heat own the easiest schedule in the NBA for the remaining 39 games.

The Heat doesn’t play a team with a record over .500 until March 23 when they host the Phoenix Suns. That’s a 10-game stretch of what should be extremely winnable contests for the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

“I don’t want to say that we’re good yet,” Butler told reporters Friday after Miami’s 124-116 win. “I think we’ve got so much more to figure out. We’ve got so much more that we can be better at. Myself, anybody, I don’t want us to get complacent and think that we’re cool, we’re good. Nah, that’s not the case. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Butler’s squad has the easiest strength of schedule (.476) the rest of the way, per Tankathon, including two lay-up matchups against the Minnesota Timberwolves (7-26) and Cleveland Cavaliers (12-21), plus contests versus the struggling Detroit Pistons (9-24) and Houston Rockets (11-20). The Heat (16-17) jumped up to fifth place in the East after going 9-3 in their last 12 contests.

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Welcome Back, Goran Dragic

One of the main engine parts for Miami’s resurgence has been Goran Dragic. After missing nine games with a left ankle injury, the veteran point guard has been playing valuable minutes off the bench while putting his imprint on the game. Don’t count out Dragic’s impact.

On Friday night, Dragic scored 26 points — second only to Butler’s game-high 33 points — in 33 minutes. He slashed his way in and out of the lane, setting up other teammates and knocking down key floaters in the fourth quarter. He shot 9-of-15 from the floor, plus 3-of-4 from deep.

“To tell you the truth, Goran does the same thing I do, probably just a little bit better,” Butler said. “I think I’m a little bit of a better defender than Goran. He’s getting old, can’t move his feet like that anymore. But he scores the ball. He gets everybody easy shots including myself. And then he’s directing traffic, telling everybody where to go, calling plays on the fly. Man, it’s really really impressive seeing him play basketball.”

Bam Adebayo Plays Through Knee Injury

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra called Bam Adebayo a “warrior” and a “throwback” after the big man gutted out 34 minutes against Utah. He was listed questionable prior to tip-off with left knee tendinosis but played through the pain. He wasn’t going to let his teammates down.

“Bam is an absolute throwback,” Spoelstra said after the game. “A warrior, he wants to be out there and compete and be there for his team, and he also wants to play against the best teams. I know it’s just great to have him out there.”

Adebayo looked Spoelstra in the eye on Friday afternoon and told: “Look, I’m going to be OK. Don’t you worry.” He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the surging Heat.

“Everybody knows me around here, man, I want to be in every game,” Adebayo said. “I feel like that’s the best thing about me, I’m always available. I feel like it takes the stress of Spo a little bit because I’m playing every game.”


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