The Miami Heat finally looked like a team ready for the playoffs on Friday night in their play-in tournament win over the Chicago Bulls. Star veteran Jimmy Butler’s characteristically dominant performance was a big reason why.
With the win, the Heat now have the pleasure of facing off against the juggernaut Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Though the Bucks are heavily favored to win the matchup, Butler likes his team’s chances.
“I think we can win,” Butler said. “I would never say we’re going to lose. If you ask that question to anybody, they’re not going to say ‘nah, we can’t win. We have no shot.’ We got to play right. We got to play some good basketball. We got to do all the little things correct.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra offered a similar sentiment.
“We have great respect for them (the Bucks), but we feel like Navy SEALS,” Spoelstra said. “Just drop us off in parachutes, and let’s go compete.”
The Heat are going to have to play some fantastic basketball to have a chance against the Bucks. If Butler can play the way he did on Friday, that should give Miami a chance to hang around against Milwaukee.
The 33-year-old put in a masterful performance against the Bulls, filling up the stat sheet with 31 points, five boards, three assists and two steals. He led the Heat in playing time, staying on the floor for an astounding 43 minutes.
The other star of the night was Max Strus, who had 31 points in the game. Bam Adebayo had a relatively quiet night offensively, finishing with just eight points, but he dominated the glass en route to 17 boards.
Still, Adebayo is simply going to have to do more if the Heat are going to stand a chance against the Bucks. It’s a safe bet that he’s going to make a major impact on the defensive end, but he can’t forget to be aggressive on the offensive side of the court as well.
All in all, there probably aren’t a lot of Heat fans who feel great about their team’s chances against the Bucks. While crazier things have happened, it would be a major shock to see the Heat advance past the first round.
But that is why the games are played. Only time will tell if Butler and his teammates can start the 2023 NBA Playoffs off with an unexpected bang.