Jimmy Butler said he’s not playing the four. But now, he is…

During the Miami Heat’s media day back in September 2022, Jimmy Butler said that he could play the power forward position “if they absolutely need” but added, “I’m not playing the four.”

người chơi bên trong sân bóng rổ

người chơi bên trong sân bóng rổ

Well, it appears the Heat absolutely need him to play the four.

After seeing P.J. Tucker leave for the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency last summer, the Miami Heat have tried Caleb Martin and, later, Kevin Love in the starting power forward spot. But in the stretch run of the regular season, Erik Spoelstra has moved both to the bench. After Bam Adebayo returned from a one-game absence last weekend, Love slotted in as the backup center. And Martin has gone back to the versatile forward off the bench he was last year.

That left Spoelstra to go small, putting Max Strus in the starting lineup with Gabe Vincent and Tyler Herro. Butler and Adebayo have rounded out the starting five.

Perhaps Spoelstra always had this move in his back pocket. Playing the four during the grind of the 82-game regular season would be too taxing on Butler, but he would shift him to the spot for the playoffs (and the play-in tournament. Spoelstra admitted last night he didn’t envision a play-in spot at training camp.)

During the 2020 playoffs, Spoelstra moved Goran Dragic into the starting lineup for Kendrick Nunn after Dragic had played as the sixth man all year. It worked out well for the Heat, as Dragic played some of his best basketball during that run.

Maybe it was because the Heat never found a suitable starting power forward. Miami didn’t trade for anyone at the deadline. Love didn’t play well as a starter. But whatever the reason, the Heat will fight for the seventh seed on Tuesday with Butler as their starting power forward.

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