Count Heat legend Dwyane Wade among those enjoying Jimmy Butler’s glorious postseason run with the Heat.
“My brother is playing beautiful basketball! It’s a joy to watch,” Wade tweeted after Butler’s 41-point performance in Game 1.
Wade, who is friends with Butler, expanded on that during an NBA TV appearance on Wednesday.
“I got a chance to play with Jimmy in 2016, and I just got a chance to talk with my brother about what he wanted for his career,” Wade said. “To be able to see it come to fruition in the same jersey I played in is weird but amazing at the same time because I know how much he wanted it for a long time.”
With the Heat, “he gets to be what we all know Jimmy Butler is: He’s a savage, he’s a beast,” Wade said. “He will get into it with his teammates and get into it with coaches. In other organizations, you can pan it to say it’s a bad thing.
“In Miami, they embrace it. After that argument with [Erik Spoelstra on the sidelines against Golden State in March], I said, ‘That is just a Tuesday, they are just warming up for the playoffs.’ You do that with another organization, the season may be over or you may get suspended for a half.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Butler texted him and wrote: “You and everybody else have slept on me.” TNT’s Reggie Miller and Stan Van Gundy said Butler might be the best player remaining in the playoffs.
Butler is averaging 29.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.3 steals in the playoffs.
THE SHAQ/BARKLEY DEBATE
The question of whether Butler can produce a fourth 40-point game in these playoffs when Marcus Smart is available for the Celtics triggered a lively debate on TNT’s studio show on Wednesday night.
Shaquille O’Neal was adamant that Butler can score 40 regardless of whether the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year plays or not. Smart missed Game 1 with a mid-foot sprain but is probably for Game 2.
“Jimmy can get 40 if he puts his mind to it,” O’Neal said. “He’s at that level. With or without Marcus Smart. He’s at that level, as D-Wade said, nobody is stopping him. Marcus Smart ain’t stopping Jimmy Butler. If he wants to get 40, he’s that type of player now. If he wants to get 40, he can get 40. I don’t want to hear that Defensive Player of the Year [stuff].”
Charles Barkley’s response? “It’s harder to score on the Defensive Player of the Year, fool. We’re not talking about you. We’re talking about Butler.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Smart “looked good” at Thursday’s shootaround at FTX Arena. “Smart’s competitive as heck. So I always expect him, no matter if he’s hurt or injured. He’ll try to make an attempt.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ The Celtics upgraded center Al Horford from doubtful to questionable before announcing on Thursday afternoon that he’ll be available for Game 2 after he missed Game 1 because of health and safety protocols.
Horford averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in 69 games this season, all starts.
“He was not feeling ill,” Udoka said Thursday just a few hours before Horford was cleared to play. “He’s feeling fine. He’s OK. It’s something that was unexpected. Just the protocols and testing he hasn’t passed, and we’ll go from there.”
Meanwhile, Celtics guard Derrick White, who started Game 1 in place of Smart, is out for Game 2 because of the birth of his child.
Udoka missed Wednesday’s session with his team due to a non-COVID illness. He said Thursday he is “good now.”
▪ Bam Adebayo said everyone appreciates Udonis Haslem trying to replicate an opposing team’s big man in practice and being available to play 1-on-1 games against everyone whenever they want.
“He’s willing to go downstairs to play one on one with Jimmy, knowing he doesn’t have to,” Adebayo said. “The fact he is willing to go in the trenches is [one of] the reasons we respect him so much.”
▪ Spoelstra appreciates the reliability of what Dewayne Dedmon has given the Heat this postseason.
“He really is important to our team — his physicality, his presence under the rim at both ends,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a veteran, smart, tough. He has everybody’s trust. Those minutes are so impactful for us.”
Here’s a look at the local TV ratings when the Heat and Panthers competed against each other on Tuesday, and more pundit commentary on the Heat and Butler.