Jimmy Butler’s status looms large over Knicks-Heat Game 3 | No Cap Room

Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer and senior NBA writer Dan Devine discuss how the Miami star’s ankle injury will impact Saturday’s showdown on South Beach.

Video Transcript


JAKE FISCHER: We will see if Jimmy Butler comes back on Saturday for game three in Miami against the New York Knicks. I have no updated information from my contacts around the Miami Heat. But I will say, Eric Spoelstra said following game one that Jimmy stayed in the game because he wanted to.

I fully believe that Jimmy Butler, if he wants to play in game three and feels up to it, he will be out there. So I am working under the assumption we will see arguably the best player from this postseason so far.

To me, what makes Jimmy Butler so effective in the playoffs, he recognizes, just as well as any superstar, there are four other guys on the court that I also need to uplift and maximize here. I'm kind of curious from an intrigue standpoint of what we're going to see out of him.

How is he going to exert his influence and will on this game without necessarily being at 100%? Because when Julius Randle comes back from an ankle injury, it's still Julius Randle just doing Julius Randle things.

I have a hunch. I have a hankering that we're going to see maybe just a different flavor of Jimmy Butler out there, come Saturday. What say you?

DAN DEVINE: Yeah, I think it's interesting to see how successful Miami was in game two without him, where they were like, well, our best way to operate here is to spread you out, try to bomb as many 3's as possible, change our defensive strategy, leaning super-heavy on the zone. When Jimmy is on the floor, they don't play that way.

They're going to play a little bit more one-on-one. They're going to play more with him in pick-and-roll, him in dribble handoff off. But if he's not as able to operate that way, you wonder if they do decide to go a little bit more in that spread, more Gabe Vincent and Kyle Lowry handling the ball a little bit more, bombs away approach. And then on the defensive end, would zone protect a sort of bulky ankle a little bit more, as opposed to asking him to guard Jalen Brunson through actions over and over again?

Would the Knicks, who didn't attack him that way at the end of game one-- would the Knicks even want to try to put him in action and go at him? Because that's the level of respect that they have for him as a disruptor, his hands on the ball, all that kind of stuff.

While I think you can say there's not going to be 100% of Jimmy Butler on the floor whenever he does come back, you don't have to be 100% to make a big impact. You mentioned Julius Randle. He's pretty clearly not 100% right now.

Asked after the game how the rehab process was, he said it was hell. And asked after the game how he's feeling, he said it doesn't even matter right now. And he still got out there. And I think it was 37, 38 minutes, 25-12-8, hugely impactful. Jimmy, he can find a way to make an impact even if he's not his best self. And if he's able to do that two times in Miami, then the Knicks are coming home in a very difficult place.