Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra applauded Jimmy Butler’s toughness after Monday’s 113-112 home win over the Phoenix Suns.
(via Brendan Tobin):
“He gives us that coherent trigger going down the stretch, where we know where we can get the ball to. From the very beginning of the game, all the way to the end, Jimmy’s not ever shying away from guarding the other team’s best player. That’s the definition of a true two-way competitor. Booker’s a handful, as we all know. He’s so skilled. He can get to wherever he wants to go. He’s got a great knack for putting the ball in the basket at all three levels.
“So you need somebody like Jimmy with his ferocity, but also his brain. You can’t just be running around all over the place with a guy like Booker. You have to be smart. And they’re a really well coached offensive team. So it’s not like they’re just running spread pick & rolls and you can get it all organized. They’re running Booker off different actions and disguising stuff. Things that had us a little bit confused during the course of the game, then we figured it out during the last 2-3 minutes.”
Gets asked if it was Butler’s decision to guard Booker down the stretch:
“From the tip. I mean count the possessions, I don’t know if there were many possessions where he wasn’t guarding Book. That’s Jimmy Butler for the course of his whole career. You get veteran players after a certain period of time, sometimes they wanna rest. Jimmy’s not wired like that. He comes alive against the best challenges in the league. That’s just who he is. He’s a total throwback. A lot of guys would probably just wanna wait until the 4th quarter to have to guard the other team’s best player. He did from the opening tip, all the way to the end.
“If you’re a basketball aficionado, you probably enjoyed seeing this kind of matchup. It’s mano a mano. Great players on both sides. That’s a well-schooled, really well-coached team that they have. They have institutional knowledge of how they wanna play. So to be able to grind it out and get a win down double digits, just shows that we’re starting slowly to develop the necessary grit and perseverance that’s required in this league.”