In Wednesday’s blockbuster game between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks, Jimmy Butler was scoreless and was a -15 in the fourth quarter. The potential Eastern Conference matchup ended in a game-winner by Jrue Holiday, but it’s also important to point out the Heat’s collapse late in the game that made this all happen in the first place.
Butler, who played 35 minutes, put up a subpar performance of six points, three rebounds, and two assists. This is downright unacceptable for an All-Star, especially in a statement game. It was evident that Butler was struggling with the Bucks’ length as they dared him to shoot from the perimeter. Sadly, this game only highlighted Butler’s flaws.
Butler has a shooting problem.
According to StatMuse, Butler is shooting only 19.0% from the 3-point area, 36.3% on the midrange, and 42.0% from the paint (non-restricted). For his usual standards, these are pretty mediocre numbers for Jimmy. He isn’t considered an elite player because of his inability to shoot from the perimeter, which the defense will dare him to do, especially during the playoff.
Butler is also shooting just 29% and is 1-11 from the 3-point area in clutch situations this season. Fortunately, this hasn’t mattered so much for the Heat, who take sole possession of the first seed in the Eastern Conference. But as mentioned above, the Playoffs are a different ball game, and the Heat will only go as far as Butler takes them.
All eyes are on Butler come Playoff time.
The thing that separates the Playoffs and the regular season is that history suggests superstars earn their paycheck in the postseason. Sure, role players like Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Max Struss have all proven that they can contribute down the stretch but pressure moments in the postseason requires the team’s superstar to deliver. The ball will have to be in Butler’s hands when it matters most.
The good news for Butler and Heat fans is that Kyle Lowry didn’t play Wednesday’s game, which was a massive loss. Lowry was acquired to be the main point guard and the team’s organizer down the stretch. He was truly missed, especially during the Heat’s collapse on Wednesday.
Lowry will ease Butler’s workload come Playoff time. The point guard is a true quarterback, makes the right plays, and is a veteran who has won a championship. He’s someone the Heat needs not only to win Playoff games but also to utilize Butler best. And if Butler wants to be used best, he also needs to start knocking down his perimeter attempts.