Grandiloquence has been stripped away.
No, it was a different Jimmy Butler, more of an introspective Jimmy Butler as he spoke in the wake of Saturday’s humiliating home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat’s third loss of the week.
No, it wasn’t Butler saying he wasn’t good enough or his team wasn’t good enough, even though the Heat fell to 12-15. But it was Butler who recognized that perhaps it was time to take stock at this intersection of expectation and reality.
“I shouldn’t say I’m not worried,” he said, the Heat opening a four-game trip Monday night against the Indiana Pacers. “I don’t think that’s the right terminology. We show flashes of what we can be and who we are. It’s just, fuck, every time we walk away from it, it looks bad.
“At the end of the day, we have to be honest with ourselves and everyone has to be better, one through the number of people we have on this list, and find a way to win these games, whether it’s at home. , away, it doesn’t matter the opposing team’s record, it doesn’t matter who we’re up against.
The last three losses have come against a Memphis Grizzlies team that rested its starters, a Detroit Pistons team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and a Spurs team at the bottom of the West.
Butler, who is coming off a 30-point performance against the Spurs, said the Heat need to move beyond the idea that they only have to put their foot on the gas when needed, especially against teams with sub-elite records. It’s a point, Butler said, that captain Udonis Haslem emphasized after Saturday’s loss.
“I would just say we think we’re so good that we’re going to figure it out at the end,” he said, “and not do well the whole game, first quarter, second quarter, third quarter , the fourth quarter. As I think UD said best, we’re not that good. We can’t afford to play a 45-minute game or a 47-minute game. We need all the 48. And, damn it, if we go to overtime, we gotta play good in overtime as well. And do it all the right way.
” I think that’s it. We think we have talent, which we know we have. And we think that’s going to do it for us. That’s not the formula here.
On Saturday, the Heat allowed the Spurs to shoot .530 from the field. In Tuesday night’s loss to the visiting Pistons, the Heat allowed Detroit to shoot .463 on 3-point range.
“I think it’s because we think we can score with the best of them, everybody,” Butler said. “We have guys who can put the ball in the basket. I think we’re so caught up – if we hit or miss shots, or even hit the ball as many times as you want to hit it. I think that’s part of having a lot of really good players on your team, and guys who know they can impact the game on the attacking side of the ball.
“I just think we have to go back to not worrying about the attack anymore, taking care of the defensive end. Because every time we play hard on that side of the ball, and we get saves and get into the open field, then everybody’s going to get the ball, and you don’t have to worry about that. So we have to find a way to get stops.
The homestand produced a 1-2 record. So now problem solving is going on the road.
“It’s part of the process of this league, it hurts sometimes,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Hopefully this pain will take us to a higher level. We need to move to a higher level. We have to move to a better level collectively. And that’s what I hope, that frustration, that pain, that anger, whatever adjective you want to use here, I hope that leads us to a better place as we move forward.
“And there’s no better way to do that than to go out on the road, where it definitely gets harder. It’s just us. It’s just the people in this locker room right now. And only the people who get on that plane.
And unless the Heat sweep the trip which also includes games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and then a Spurs rematch in Mexico City, it will mean going home with a losing record.
“I think we had a lot of different issues and I think they’re all fixable,” point guard Kyle Lowry said. “I think we just have to collect our wits and get tired of losing.”