Hall of Famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley dismissed the idea of Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro being considered as closers for the Miami Heat.
Barkley appeared on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Friday night and indicated that he’s not convinced the Heat have players that can deliver in the clutch.
“I think they play hard, and they play smart,” Barkley said. “But I don’t know if they have closers.”
After then being asked specifically about Butler and Herro as closers, Barkley explained that he doesn’t see them as such.
“They’re not in my opinion,” Barkley said. “They’re both terrific players, but can they will their team? In the playoffs, it comes down to stars. Now, I think they’re gonna beat Atlanta, but I’m talking about going farther. I don’t know if their team…is good enough.”
Barkley later called the Heat’s achievement of reaching the 2020 NBA Finals “overrated.” That assessment is based on the fact that the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Fla. during that year’s playoffs eliminated home-court advantage for every team.
In 2020, the Heat ended the NBA’s interrupted campaign with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, they knocked out three opponents who would have had home-court advantage under normal circumstances.
In the 2020 NBA Finals, the Heat fell in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
During that playoff run, both Butler and Herro were in their first seasons as members of the Heat and played key roles in the team’s success.
Over the course of their respective careers, Butler and Herro have been motivated by critiques directed at their talents on the court. It’s likely that they’ll use Barkley’s dismissal of their clutch ability as motivation when Miami begins its playoff journey on Sunday afternoon.
Barkley has never been shy about offering blunt opinions on a number of topics. While the Heat are entering the 2022 playoffs under pressure as the Eastern Conference’s top seed, two of their top players now have the incentive of proving Barkley wrong.