Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was happy to have Jimmy Butler back to the lineup as he acknowledged the importance of the five-time NBA All Star. After missing three straight games due to an injury, Butler returned to the Heat lineup on Monday and led them past the Indiana Pacers 114-92.
Butler had a game-high 19 points to go along 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block against the Pacers. "The depth of our team obviously is a big-time strength, the fact that we have a lot of different variety to our offense, but make no mistake about this: Jimmy Butler is a go-to guy," Heat coach Spoelstra said after the game, as quoted on ESPN.
"And you saw that tonight. I don't even care what his field goal percentage was. He was dictating the game. The ball was going through him. That's the definition of a go-to player. It's when your offense knows where the ball has to go, and he makes the right plays."
Back in January, Butler and Pacers' TJ Warren got into a heated exchange on the court -- which led to Butler saying post-game that Warren said something "truly disrespectful" and that he was "trash."
"Anything right now with the NBA is good," Spoelstra said. "We need this. We need competition. So much of [the Butler-Warren rivalry] was just a storyline, but who cares really? I know it was months ago, but hey, we're out here completing a season and just about on the brink of the playoffs in a global pandemic.
It's just all good right now, the fact that we're able to do this -- and if it contributes to interest because people want that storyline, so be it."
Butler left the arena with a smile on his face
Warren, who came into the game averaging 34.8 points in the bubble, was limited to only 12 points while defended by Butler and the Heat star didn't hide his happiness after the game.
"We just made everything tough on him," Butler said in a postgame interview with Fox Sports Florida. "He's been on a tear lately, I will say that. But when you go up against the Heat, we always have something in our back pocket."
Heat guard Goran Dragic was also in great spirits after the game and he praised Butler: "You can see Jimmy was locked in, everybody basically, and it was a helluva team win."