Last year’s runner-up Miami Heat are on a tear after a sluggish start to the season. They’ve won 11 of their last 12 games, turning an 11-17 record to 22-18, which is good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. There are a lot of smaller reasons why the Heat’s season has turned around but there’s also a very obvious one.
Jimmy Butler is putting up MVP-like numbers over the last month of the season and Miami’s won all 10 of Butler’s most recent games. In the month of March, he’s scoring 28.3 points per game on 58.5% shooting with 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks. He’s only turning the ball over twice in 35.8 minutes.
The Heat’s 113-98 win over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night showcased exactly what makes Butler such an essential piece of the puzzle. He scored 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting, made all six of his free-throws, and added 12 rebounds (four offensive), four assists, two steals, and just three turnovers.
Miami is starting to look like the team that made a run to the Finals a few months ago, and Butler is the main reason why. In his last seven games, he’s scored at least 27 points on at least 52.9% shooting from the field. He may end up being the player of the month as the Heat shoot upwards in the playoff race.
Now, let's talk about all seven games from Tuesday night.
Jazz 117, Celtics 109
Rudy Gobert — Gobert double-doubled with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks in the win. He made 5-of-6 shots from the field and, impressively, 6-of-7 free-throws.
Daniel Theis — Theis flirted with a triple-double, scoring 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting including one 3-pointer, 11 rebounds, six assists, and no turnovers with Tristan Thompson sidelined due to protocol.
Jayson Tatum — Tatum played extremely well, but it still wasn’t enough to hang with top-ranked Utah. He scored 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting including four 3-pointers with six rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Jaylen Brown — Brown scored 28 pints on 12-of-21 shooting including two 3-pointers with seven assists, five rebounds, two steals, one block, and three turnovers.
Donovan Mitchell — Mitchell knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes to secure the win for the Jazz. He wasn’t sharp from the field all game, hitting just 6-of-16 shots for 21 points, but added five assists, two rebounds, and one steal.
Jordan Clarkson — Clarkson was key off the bench as usual, scoring 20 points with five made 3-pointers. He added three assists, three rebounds, and just two turnovers in 30 minutes.
Heat 113, Cavaliers 98
Jimmy Butler — Butler’s now scored 27 points or more on 52.9% shooting or better in seven straight games and the Heat have won all of them. His 28 came on 11-of-16 shooting with 12 rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Kelly Olynyk — Olynyk continued his strong run, scoring 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. He didn’t turn the ball over in 35 minutes.
JaVale McGee — McGee came off the bench to score 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting with eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks.
Larry Nance Jr. — Nance Jr.’s third game back from injury was his best by far. He scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting including one 3-pointer with nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block.
Bam Adebayo — Playing his first game since March 2nd, Adebayo scored 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds, six assists, and two blocks in 30 minutes.
Sixers 99, Knicks 96
Julius Randle — Randle only made 7-of-19 shots from the field, but he added 15 rebounds, eight assists, and just two turnovers to his 19 points. He kept New York in it until the end.
Tobias Harris — Harris led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including four 3-point shots, a perfect 4-of-4 from the line, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal.
Ben Simmons — Simmons approached a triple-double with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting with 13 rebounds, seven assists, and just three turnovers in 34 minutes.
RJ Barrett — Barrett’s hot shooting cooled off a bit, but he still scored 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal.
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Bulls 123, Thunder 102
Moses Brown — Moses Brown! With Horford out, Brown had a massive game as a starter, scoring 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 16 rebounds and five blocks. If he’s available in your league, scoop him up now!
Zach LaVine — LaVine was incredible in the win, scoring 40 points on 15-of-20 shooting with seven made 3-pointers. He made all three of his free-throws and added four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Lauri Markkanen — Markkanen’s 22 points came on 7-of-14 shooting with three made 3-pointers, five rebounds, one assist, and two blocks.
Thaddeus Young — One of the Bulls’ newest starters was everywhere in the win, scoring 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and three turnovers.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — SGA’s 21 points came on a great 10-of-17 shooting, but he only added one assist and one rebound while turning the ball over eight times. That the sloppiest game of his career by a full three turnovers. At least he added two steals and a block.
Hawks 119, Rockets 107
Danilo Gallinari — Gallinari’s heating up now. He’s scored 20 or more points in four of his last five games, and his 29 on Tuesday night came on 10-of-14 shooting with five 3-pointers, six rebounds, one steal, and one block.
Victor Oladipo — Oladipo’s 34 points were a season-high though they weren’t enough to stop the Rockets from losing their 17th straight game. He made 13-of-20 shots from the field and 4-of-6 3-pointers with five assists, three rebounds, and four turnovers.
Kevin Porter Jr. — Porter Jr.’s getting the biggest opportunity of his pro career on this ailing Houston roster and made the most of it on Tuesday. He scored 22 points on 10-of-21 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers, eight assists, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and three turnovers in 41 minutes.
Jae’Sean Tate — Tate’s 25 points were a career-high, and he did it on an impressive 9-of-19 shooting (four made 3-pointers) with six assists, six rebounds, one steal, one block, and two turnovers.
Trae Young — Young scored just 13 points on 3-of-13 shooting but did add 14 assists. He turned the ball over five times.
Trail Blazers 125, Pelicans 124
Damian Lillard — Lillard had the statline of the night, scoring 50 points on just 20 shots. That’s wild. He made 13-of-20 looks, six 3-pointers, all 18 free-throws, 10 assists, six rebounds, and four turnovers.
Lonzo Ball — Ball had a career-high 17 assists, and turned the ball over two times in 35 minutes. He also scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting with three rebounds and two steals.
Brandon Ingram — He may have missed the last two free-throws that could’ve sealed the game, but Ingram still put up 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting. He also added six rebounds and two assists.
Gary Trent Jr. — Trent Jr. is shifting to a bench role with C.J. McCollum back, but he still put up starter numbers in 32 minutes. He scored 22 points on 6-of-10 shots with three rebounds, one assist, and two steals.
Zion Williamson — Williamson’s runner at the buzzer could’ve won the game, but he was still tremendous. He scored 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting with eight assists, five rebounds, and two turnovers in 33 minutes.
Lakers 137, Timberwolves 121
Anthony Edwards — The rookie scored 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
Karl-Anthony Towns — Towns also scored 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting including two 3-pointers, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.
Ricky Rubio — Rubio double-doubled with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting with two 3-pointers, 12 assists, two rebounds, three steals, and just one turnover in 28 minutes.
LeBron James — James triple-doubled with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting with 12 assists, 12 rebounds, one block, and four turnovers in 31 minutes.
Montrezl Harrell — Harrell’s developing serious chemistry on the floor with James. He scored 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting with six assists, four rebounds, one steal, and one block.