Heat’s Jimmy Butler is good to go, but feels bad for Joel Embiid
With 76ers likely to play out the series minus their star, players like Butler will be key if the Heat are to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
If Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler can be taken for his word, then he’ll be in the line-up when he and his team take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night.
Jimmy Butler says he’ll be ready to face the 76ers
On Saturday after the Heat’s pracitce session, swing man Jimmy Butler was positive when speaking about his knee ahead of Monday’s Game 1 showdown against the Sixers. “It’s all right,” Butler said. “We got another day in between. Get out there, rip and ride. And I know it will be ready to hold up come Monday, but the time off has been great for myself and so many other guys that are nicked up. Everybody’s ready to compete.”
Butler of course was force to sit out the series clinching Game 5 of the Heat’s first round match up against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night with a sore knee. Considering that was the case, it was very encouraging to see that he looked comfortable moving around and shooting during Saturday’s session. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that the entire group which includes Butler and veteran guard Kyle Lowry, were able to do “a little bit more than [Friday].” There was also positive news regarding guard Tyler Herro, who disclosed that he too would be ready for Game one having been absent for Friday’s practice due to a cold.
Jimmy Butler feels bad for Joel Embiid
Interestingly, Butler also spoke on the now confirmed absence of Joel Embiid. The Sixers’ center and star player suffered a concussion and orbital fracture during Philadelphia’s Game 6 win against the Raptors on Tuesday night which saw them clinch the series. With initial reports saying “indefinite,” it remains unclear as to when next Embiid will play. “I feel bad for my guy,” Butler said. “Obviously, one of my former teammates, arguably the MVP of this league. And I think I speak for everybody that’s a part of this team, we want Jo to play. We want to go up against them at full strength and prove that we can hang with anybody and we can beat anybody. It’s a mishap. I hope he recovers well and gets back very, very soon.”
Indeed, Butler was actually on the Sixers roster for a portion of the 2018-19 season with the Sixers after being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves. With that said, he’s all to aware of how Embiid’s absence will undoubtedly shape strategy for his former team. “I’m not an analytics guy, obviously,” Butler said. “But I was told that they’re a much better team defensively whenever he’s on the floor as they should be. I would guess offensively as well. The way that he draws double, triple, quadruple teams. I think it’s quint-teams with all five guys that are guarding him. ...And he makes the right plays as well - but he’s been doing this a long time in this league, damn sure has been this year. He would get my vote for MVP. It’s going to be a challenge but they beat us once without him.”
Heat’s Erik Spoelstra weighs in
The Heat’s head coach was also quick to point out that his team won’t be suffering from any loss of focus as they like their opponents wait to see how long Embiid will be sidelined. “You have to be prepared in playoff series for changes that inevitably happen,” Spoelstra said. “Whether it’s this change or another change, there are a lot of unpredictable things that happen. I believe that our team has experience dealing with a lot of variables, changing of the goalposts, and doing it with a steadiness and that’s just how we’ll have to approach this. ...It starts with deep respect; one for what we’re trying to accomplish and deep respect for your competition which our guys have. And it’s hard not to have that respect when you bring up the names that are still available.”