Considering Jimmy Butler is a walking coffee shop, one would not think the Miami Heat would have an issue getting caffeinated.
But a bench set on domination in the Eastern Conference finals has come up short, making the strained left groin that took Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro out of Monday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics all the more significant.
With all eyes on the Heat injury report, it has become apparent that depth might be the only answer for the Heat to regain control of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2 going into Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. Game 5 at FTX Arena.
Hope was added in Game 4, with Victor Oladipo closing with 23 points.
“Just being aggressive,” Oladipo said.
At 11.8 points per game in this series, Oladipo is not far behind Herro’s 12.3. The difference is Oladipo also is 6 of 15 on 3-pointers, compared to Herro’s 1 of 14, as well as 17 of 23 from the line, as opposed to Herro’s 4 of 4.
So an aggressive Oladipo plus a revived Herro could be worth more than any double shot being served up by Butler’s Big Face Coffee grinders, with the Heat’s starting forward with his own series concerns.
“He’s just being successful in his role,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said of Oladipo. “He’s been doing that night in, night out. We can’t take anything from him. He’s definitely a spark that was keeping us in the game.”
Oladipo’s effort in Game 4, in fact, was so unique that, according to ESPN, he became the first reserve to outscore his team’s starting lineup in a playoff game since starters first were tracked by the NBA in 1970-71.
“Just got to continue to keep improving, continue to keep playing hard and figure out ways to win,” said Oladipo, as he continues to work back from May 2021 quadriceps surgery. “It’s a seven-game series, so on to the next one. Got to get ready for Game 5.”
Among the Heat’s priorities is creating a better shot menu than Game 4, when they had only three shots at the rim in Monday night’s first half.
“I think that’s on us,” Butler said. “We settled for too many mid-range jump shots, myself included. A lot of shots behind the three that weren’t even good ones, at that.
“Ain’t nothing more than that. We need to move the ball around, get it to the open guy and let that guy make the play and live with what we get out of it. I think we’ve just got to be better.”
It starts, Butler said, with better ball movement.
“Move the ball, get it from one side to the other, keep the game extremely simple,” he said. “Whenever we tend to do that, we tend to play well. When anybody tries to hit a home run and do it by themselves, we kind of get in trouble. Ball sticks. We turn the ball over. We take a bad shot.
“We just need to do everything together like we’ve been doing all year long. It will be on myself, on Kyle [Lowry], on Bam to make sure that we make that happen.”
Having missed the Celtics’ Game 2 victory at FTX Arena for the birth of his son, Celtics guard Derrick White said he felt twice blessed after playing a major role in Monday night’s victory, closing with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists while playing in the injury absence of Marcus Smart.
But, he said, it mostly was about the after party, getting back to see his son.
“He’s been a super blessing to myself and my family,” White said. “I can’t wait to go home and see him and just hold him. It’s cool just to watch him. I’m excited to see how he grows.”