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Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler drives to the hoop against a Washington Wizards defender. (Photo by Schuler/Imago/Icon Sportswire)
March 25th, 2022
Few teams play with more unbridled passion than the Miami Heat. Sometimes that energy can lead to extra possessions and gritty, come-from-behind wins. On other occasions it can lead to intense infighting, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Gettysburg.
The Heat had to deal with the latter on Wednesday evening, when Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem got into an ugly shouting match during a timeout in the team’s lopsided loss to the Golden State Warriors. The two players had to be forcibly separated from one another, but not before Haslem threatened to beat Butler to within an inch of his life.
Tempers flared between Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem during a timeout against the Warriors.(via @BuffaJack) pic.twitter.com/RllEL2DnRG— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 24, 2022
Tempers flared between Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem during a timeout against the Warriors.(via @BuffaJack) pic.twitter.com/RllEL2DnRG
Head coach Erik Spoelstra dismissed the incident afterwards, blaming it on his team’s highly competitive nature. "We have a gnarly group and we were getting our asses kicked for two straight games," he said. "We’re not playing to the level that we wanted to play. Virtually every single person in that huddle was pretty animated about our disappointment in how we were playing."
Whether or not you buy Spoelstra’s explanation, one thing is certain: the Heat have been ice cold lately. Miami has lost four of its last seven games and has seen its vice-like grip on the top seed in the Eastern Conference slowly slip away.
Butler & Co. will have a chance to reverse their slide tonight when they host the New York Knicks at FTX Arena. New York has lost two of its last three games and has sunk to 11th place in the Eastern Conference, a full five games out of the final play-in spot. Injuries have played a big role in the Knicks’ precipitous decline, as the club has had to solider on lately without big-time contributors Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, and Derrick Rose, among others.
Knicks vs. Heat gets underway tonight at 8 p.m. ET, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Most players don’t play well when they’re angry. It tends to obscure their judgement and inhibit their ability to let the game come to them. Jimmy Butler is not most players. This is, after all, the same supercharged alpha male who once dominated Minnesota’s starting lineup with a bunch of third-stringers just to prove a point. That particular scrimmage ended with Butler shouting at GM Scott Layden, "You f--king need me, Scott! You can't win without me!" So safe to say, Butler isn’t wired like the rest of us.
An interesting detail about that practice from 2018 is that Butler managed to crush the Timberwolves’ starting five despite only shooting the ball once. It speaks volumes about his ability to fill the stat sheet in other ways, which is why we’re keen to back the Over on Butler’s combined points, rebounds, and assists tonight.
"The most interesting detail of that whole scrimmage that nobody knows: I ONLY SHOT THE BALL ONCE." Jimmy Butler on the infamous "Jimmy dominated the gym in every way" practice. (Via The JJ Redick Podcast, @Ringer) pic.twitter.com/QRJUQPoQ0E— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 11, 2018
"The most interesting detail of that whole scrimmage that nobody knows: I ONLY SHOT THE BALL ONCE." Jimmy Butler on the infamous "Jimmy dominated the gym in every way" practice. (Via The JJ Redick Podcast, @Ringer) pic.twitter.com/QRJUQPoQ0E
The six-time All-Star is presently averaging 21.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists and is just one game removed from dropping 27 points, five boards, and six dimes against the Philadelphia 76ers. Butler has also fared well against New York this season, and is averaging 22.5 points per game in his two appearances against the Knicks in 2021-22.
To paraphrase the Incredible Hulk, "the Knicks won’t like Jimmy Butler when he’s angry."
No player has been hotter from beyond the arc lately than Kyle Lowry, who’s hit an astounding 16 of his 27 3-point attempts over his last three games. That includes a brilliant 6-for-9 performance against the Warriors on Wednesday.
SIX THREES FOR KYLE. pic.twitter.com/OWN0cfOB7v— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 24, 2022
SIX THREES FOR KYLE. pic.twitter.com/OWN0cfOB7v
Lowry is well positioned for another big night from downtown against a Knicks squad which ranks a distant 25th in opponent 3-pointers attempted and 21st in 3-pointers made. Keep on riding the Over until Lowry shows any signs of cooling off.
Bam Adebayo has long been one of the NBA’s best-passing big men, but Miami’s acquisition of Lowry has put a serious dent in his assist totals. The Kentucky alum is averaging nearly two fewer dimes per game this season since the offense no longer flows through the high post.
Adebayo’s assists totals have been especially anemic lately, as he’s distributed three assists or less in four of his last six games, and is averaging just 3.2 dimes per games in March. Expect him to go Under tonight’s projected total once again with Lowry back in the lineup and Butler eager to put his fingerprints all over this matchup.
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