Jimmy Butler already has paid one of his former teams a pair of visits this season.
The Philadelphia 76ers will return the favor on Saturday when they visit Butler’s Miami Heat, who sport a 14-1 record at home.
The 76ers got the better of Butler in the teams’ first encounter in Philadelphia on Nov. 23, with the star guard limited to just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting in the 76ers’ wire-to-wire 113-86 victory.
Butler didn’t fare much better in the rematch, going 5 of 11 from the floor for 14 points, but the Heat handed the 76ers their first home loss with a 108-104 decision on Dec. 18.
Miami followed up that victory with three more to begin its current four-game homestand, highlighted by a 113-112 win over Indiana on Friday.
Butler finished with 20 points after making 14 of 15 shots from the foul line against the Pacers, and Goran Dragic sank the go-ahead basket with 6.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“That’s who we are … never giving up on any play and playing through the end,” the 30-year-old Butler said, via Fox Sports Florida & Sun.
Dragic cited his team’s determination that created a pair of offensive rebounds to set up his game-winning shot.
“That’s our mentality. That’s our DNA,” Dragic said. “Not every game is going to be pretty. Not every game you’ll make shots. You need to hustle and play defense and attack with those offensive rebounds.”
Butler inked a four-year, $142 million deal with Miami in the offseason in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Josh Richardson to Philadelphia as part of a four-team deal.
Richardson, who played his first four seasons with the Heat, scored 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field in the first meeting with Miami. He added 17 points in the rematch and finished with 15 on Friday as the 76ers opened a four-game road trip with a 98-97 setback in Orlando.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown wasn’t interested in hearing about his team’s valiant effort to erase a late 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“I really don’t even care about it. I don’t believe that we should have been in that position,” Brown told reporters. “I think it’s hollow praise to go there. I’m not going there. It’s a physicality issue that we lost.
“In fact, it will probably end up serving us well. It was a playoff-type of movement as far as the physical side of it, and I thought we responded with a D-minus.”
Joel Embiid followed up his mammoth Christmas Day performance of 31 points and 11 rebounds in the 76ers’ 121-109 victory over Milwaukee with 24 and 11, respectively, against the Magic. The 25-year-old likely will find himself on the bench with the 76ers playing on back-to-back nights.
Speaking of double-doubles, Miami center Bam Adebayo recorded his 19th such performance this season with 18 points and 15 rebounds on Friday. Adebayo produced 18 double-doubles in his first 152 games over two NBA seasons.
Adebayo had just 12 points and five rebounds in the first meeting with the 76ers before adding 23 and nine, respectively, in the rematch on Dec. 18.
–Field Level Media