ASK IRA: Can Heat win with Jimmy Butler planted in paint?

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Q: If some don’t see the genius in Jimmy Butler’s game today, I feel for you. Did he even attempt an outside shot? -- Douglas.

A: No. He did not. Every single shot came within the paint, with each of his baskets at the rim. And, still, he filled the box score with 22 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. And he did it all on only 11 shots (although that doesn't truly factor in his 10 of 11 from the line). In this game, that was all that was required. But an outside shot does matter at moments of truth, when getting to the rim isn't an option. So the question remains about being a closer. Again, with time winding down in a tie game, or down by two or even three, is the ball in Jimmy Butler's hands? Is that where you want it? Need it? And if the defense sags, then what? There will be those moments. And in those moments, the paint or the foul line might not be available as refuge.

Q: What do you think of the new lineup? -- Wes.

A: Exactly what I have been thinking all along, that it will be difficult to utilize all of the team's wing options if the big men are clogging the rotation. Now, with Jae Crowder starting at power forward, it makes it easier to work in Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and Derrick Jones Jr. off the bench. Also, if you are going to bring a big man off the bench, Kelly Olynyk, as has been stated here before, provides far more of a change of pace than Meyers Leonard.

Q: Will Meyers Leonard play again? -- Patrick.

A: Yes, because unlike Saturday, there likely will be games with early foul trouble for one of the big men. And if Chris Silva remains inactive, there’s not much in the way of bulk to turn to beyond Udonis Haslem (if that even still is an option). The greater question is how the reduction of Meyers Leonard’s role could impact the Heat’s offseason, when it comes to Meyers’ free agency and Kelly Olynyk’s player option. But, for now, Erik Spoelstra insists this all is fluid.


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