Jimmy Butler is having the best season of his career thus far but the Miami Heat is still one of the most inconsistent teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Miami Heat is slated to make the playoffs, one way or another, but this season has been everything but an ideal step forward for a franchise that was in the NBA Finals just a year ago. With just a handful of games remaining in the regular season, there really isn’t much time left to right the ship.
In short, the Heat is what they are. And right now, that’s an inconsistent playoff team.
That shouldn’t be surprising for a projected 6th seed. However, considering that the team’s star, Jimmy Butler, is having arguably the best season of his career thus far, it simply doesn’t add up.
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Jimmy Butler has been great despite the Miami Heat’s inconsistency
If you would’ve told me that Jimmy was going to have an even better season than last year and that the Heat would be the 6th seed in the East heading into the playoffs, I would’ve laughed you out of the room.
A team that was an NBA Finalist was going to get a career year from their best player and the team as a whole was going to take a step back? How so?
Well, the Heat has laid the groundwork for how to do so.
Jimmy is averaging 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals per game on 50 percent shooting from the field. He is also posting his best PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of his career thus far, at 26.50.
Despite that, the Heat is just six games over .500 and two games out from being a bottom two seed in the East. Other than Jimmy, there’s not much else on this team that has been consistent this season. That’s probably why the team has embraced the inconsistent role.
Bam Adebayo has taken another step forward in his game; he’s averaging 19 points, nine rebounds, and five assists per game on 57 percent shooting from the field. But he too has had his ups and downs of inconsistency this season.
There are nights when he’s too passive, nights when he doesn’t even look at the basket, and nights when he’s sitting postgame saying all these things. At that point, though, it’s already too late.
Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro have also seen a drop in efficiency this season and that perhaps is something that has hurt the team the most. Without great shooting next to Jimmy and Bam, this offense becomes a bogged down version of its best self.
Not having a consistent scorer off the bench (Herro or Dragic), and this team looks old and slow on most nights.
Simply put, Herro and Dragic haven’t had enough “splash” games and moments this season. It’s dramatically hurt the Heat and is likely the biggest reason why the Heat is heading into the playoffs without hosting a first-round series.
Has the Miami Heat’s regression been overstated?
But here’s perhaps the most perplexing of the stats: The Heat is 31-19 when Jimmy Butler plays this season. That’s a 62 percent winning percentage. Basing the East standings off that, Miami would be sitting in the 4th seed, right behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 3rd seed who has a 63.2 percent winning percentage this season.
And that record is something that I keep coming back to. The Heat IS good when Jimmy plays. Had Jimmy been healthy all season long, perhaps we’re having a different conversation about this team heading into the postseason.
The Heat has absolutely been inconsistent this season, but perhaps we haven’t been paying much attention to this team when healthy. If Herro, Dragic, and Robinson can catch some fire or even just find some rhythm in the playoffs, all bets are off on this team. The demise of the Heat might have been overstated this season.