Heat’s Spoelstra and Butler on their partnership. And examining Robinson’s two-point game

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Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler are past the getting-to-know-you phase.

In their second season together, the relationship between the Miami Heat’s head coach and best player has evolved since last year and continues to evolve with each shared experience.

“Keep it real with one another,” Butler explained of his relationship with Spoelstra in advance of Saturday night’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. “We got in a little predicament [Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs]. But it’s nothing new. Everything is not all good all the time. But we both want to win, we both have the same agenda. So I think he’s helping me grow a tremendous amount, talking about leadership as a player and what to look for with my guys. He’s making sure that I put a lot of trust in my teammates and in my young guys, and I appreciate him for it.”

Spoelstra describes his relationship with Butler as a partnership.

“It has to be with the best players in this league,” Spoelstra said.

Butler is in the middle of one of the best seasons of his NBA career, as he entered Saturday averaging 21.7 points on 49.3 percent shooting and career-highs in rebounds (seven), assists (7.2) and steals (2.1).

“He has such vast experience and a great IQ and feel for the game, and how to manage the game and manipulate a game and to do that on both ends,” said Spoelstra, who recently became just the 27th coach in NBA history to win at least 600 regular-season games. “One, it has been a joy to watch, to experience that. All of the great players in the history of this game and especially the ones that I’ve coached have a real great mind for the game, as well. They compete at the highest level, but they can do it with a deep level of understanding of how to win.

“This year has presented both of us with a much different challenge than last year. We’re dealing with a different kind of season and a lot of different adversities. It has been really challenging. I think we both have grown, both been stretched from this in different ways.”

THE TWO-POINT SPECIALIST?

While Heat forward Duncan Robinson is known as one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters, he’s also very efficient on shots around the basket.

Among Heat players who have taken more than 30 shots from inside the restricted area this season, Robinson (6-7, 215 pounds) entered Saturday shooting a team-best 80.4 percent on those attempts. He’s averaging just 0.9 shots from inside the restricted area, but the few he does take go in at an impressive rate.

“I think you can’t overlook the shot selection,” Robinson said. “It’s not like I’m taking tough floaters or anything like that. A lot of my shots, I’m very selective. Usually I’m not getting the ball in there unless I’m pretty open. So, you know, of course that helps. The other one, is, yeah, I feel like I’ve worked at it a lot. Obviously I’m not an elite, high-volume finisher. But I do feel like I have solid touch around the rim, and the ability to understand the angles and areas in which I can get shots up. So, it’s really something I’ve improved and developed. It’s a testament to the staff that’s kind of pushed me in that area.”

Most of Robinson’s attempts around the basket have come off of cuts. He’s 21 of 25 on cutting layup attempts, according to NBA tracking stats.

“The cuts and stuff are a change of pace from what I’m normally doing,” Robinson said. “But it has been a pretty steady diet of back cuts this whole year. I think that stuff is starting to gain some recognition in that a lot of it’s not necessarily myself cutting, but more so the ability that we have guys that are able to make those passes. Those aren’t easy passes in the paint, kind of through hands and limbs. But yeah, it’s always an opportunity to keep the defense honest. If they’re getting too comfortable with guarding me a certain way, it’s a change of pace.”

HEAT’S VACCINATION EVENT

The Heat, which was prepared to to offer up to 400 COVID-19 vaccines, administered 75 doses at its community vaccination event held at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday.

A second event will take place on May 20 to administer the second dose.

INJURY REPORT

The Heat remains without guards Tyler Herro (right foot soreness) and Victor Oladipo (right knee soreness) for Saturday’s road game against the Cavaliers. Both players did not travel with the team to Cleveland.

Heat forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Udonis Haslem did travel with the team, but they are unavailable Saturday because of stomach illnesses.

Miami’s other 12 players are expected to be available for the start of its two-game trip.

The Cavaliers ruled out Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Darius Garland (left ankle sprain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion), Larry Nance Jr. (right thumb fracture), Taurean Prince (left ankle surgery), Lamar Stevens (concussion) and Dylan Windler (left knee surgery) for Saturday’s game against the Heat.