Jimmy Butler owns up to not being aggressive enough in Game 1 of NBA Finals vs. Denver Nuggets

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Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler owned up to not being aggressive enough on offense in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

Butler finished Game 1 with just 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting (1-of-2 from 3). He did add seven rebounds and seven assists in the loss, but he failed to get to the line, which is extremely rare for him.

“When you look at it during the game, they all look like the right shots,” Butler said. “And I’m not saying that we can’t, as a team, make those, but gotta get more layups, gotta get more free throws.”

The only Miami player to take a free throw in Game 1 was Haywood Highsmith, who finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting off the bench.

The Heat as a whole lacked aggression, taking just two free throws in the entire game.

It’s no secret that the Heat rely heavily on Butler on offense, and he’s stepped up in the playoffs to help lead the team to this point in the NBA Finals.

During the playoffs, Butler is averaging 27.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. He’s been extremely efficient for Miami, shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc despite taking 20.2 shots per game.

The Heat struggled to hang around in Game 1, as several of their role players shot the ball poorly. Max Strus, Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin combined to shoot just 2-of-23 from the field.

Those players need to improve as well, but Butler clearly is taking a leadership role by placing some blame on himself for his lack of aggression.

Thursday night’s loss was the first time that Miami lost Game 1 of a series in the playoffs this season. The team is hoping it can steal Game 2 on Sunday to even things up before heading home to South Florida.

It’s possible Butler will have another running mate in that game, as guard Tyler Herro could make his return in Game 2. Herro has not played since Game 1 of the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks due to a hand injury.

The Heat and Nuggets are scheduled to tip off the second game of the series at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.