Jimmy Butler gets real on how much time Miami Heat still have to make improvements

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have been making strides ever since a long losing streak in late January, but they’ve now dropped two games in a row, and Jimmy Butler said they only have so much time to improve before the hourglass runs out.

“There’s still time,” Butler said regarding areas the team must improve. “But damn, not too much time.”

Miami has 19 games remaining with a little more than a month to go as it attempts to avoid having to compete in the play-in round for a second straight season.

Despite Butler’s concern, NBA insider Brian Windhorst said the Heat have a good chance to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals – or at least a better chance than the Los Angeles Lakers have to return to the Western Conference Finals — because he believes Miami is better than its record.

The Heat entered league play on Saturday holding sixth place in the Eastern Conference but being closer to eighth place than fourth place. Despite recent back-to-back road losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami still has won 11 of its past 16 games and sports a record of 35-28.

A closer look at that mark reveals some issues for the Heat when they have to face teams that have winning records. The Heat are just 14-20 against teams that are currently above .500.

That could be one of the things that worries Butler as he looks at his club entering the final stages of the NBA regular season. However, improvement may come from within as the Heat get some of their injured players back.

Though they have lost Josh Richardson for the season to a shoulder injury, Terry Rozier recently returned to action after recovering from a knee injury. Tyler Herro remains sidelined with a foot injury but also should provide a boost when he is able to come back.

Fortunately for Miami, some of the worst teams in the league are coming up on the schedule, with a home game Sunday against the Washington Wizards and two games at the Detroit Pistons next week. In between is another game against the defending champion Denver Nuggets, who defeated the Heat at the end of February in the first rematch of the 2023 NBA Finals.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.