Jimmy Butler speaks out on Max Strus taking potential game-tying shot vs. Cavs

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Despite trailing for much of their contest on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat had a chance to force overtime with time running down in the fourth quarter.

Max Strus ended up taking a 3-pointer with 4.0 seconds left, but he missed, allowing the Cavs to survive with a 104-100 win. Afterward, Jimmy Butler defended Strus taking such a shot in that type of situation.

“I take that look,” Butler said. “Max shooting that 3, Tyler [Herro] shooting a 3, whoever. Get the shooters open knowing that they’re not gonna come off of my body anyways, and next time, he will make that. That’s what Max does for us — stretches the floor, take/make big shots, whether it’s in the second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter or overtime, or the first quarter, now that I think about it.”

On the night, Strus struggled, going 2-of-8 from the field. All of his shot attempts were from 3-point range.

Many may question the wisdom of having him take a game-tying 3-point attempt, especially when he is shooting just 33.5 percent from downtown on the season. Such people would’ve likely rather seen Butler or Herro take that shot, but that isn’t always possible.

The Cavs rank first in the NBA in defensive rating, and on Wednesday, they suffocated the Heat down the stretch, limiting them to just 18 points in the fourth quarter. Miami also committed 22 turnovers, which was also a major factor in its loss.

The team has struggled offensively all season long, as it is averaging a league-low 108.3 points per game and is the only squad at under 110 points a contest this season.

The Heat are also struggling in an area that used to be a big strength for them — 3-point shooting. They’re just 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting accuracy at 33.7 percent.

With a 35-32 record, they’re in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and after playing respectable ball in December and January, they have now lost seven of their last 10 games.

Miami could get back a significant reinforcement relatively soon, as point guard Kyle Lowry could return within the next week. Although he is shooting poorly this season, his facilitating, veteran leadership and steady hand should help at least somewhat.

He has been out for about a month with a knee ailment.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.