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‘Got to get more free throws’


Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Thursday night’s 104-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals. It was his lowest-scoring game so far this postseason.

However, the bigger story pertained to Miami setting an NBA playoff record for the fewest free throw attempts in a game, going to the foul line just twice. The Heat also shot 39-of-96 (40.6%) from the floor and 13-of-39 (33.3%) outside the arc.

Referring to a couple of NBA betting sites, Denver is the favorite to win the 2023 NBA Finals. A few sportsbooks are giving Butler second-shortest odds to win Finals MVP. Of course, Nikola Jokic remains the top favorite.

“Probably because we shot a lot of jump shots, myself probably leading that pack, instead of putting pressure on the rim,” Jimmy Butler responded on why the Heat struggled to hang with Denver. “Getting layups, getting to the free throw line. When you look at it during the game, they all look like the right shots.

“And I’m not saying that we can’t as a team make those, but got to get more layups, got to get more free throws. And whenever you miss and don’t get back, the game gets out of hand kind of quickly. We gave up too many layups, which we also can’t have happen. But that’s it as a whole. We’ve got to attack the rim a lot more, myself included.”

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler scored only 13 points, a postseason low this year, in Thursday’s 104-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals

Haywood Highsmith was the only Heat player sent to the foul line. The third-year forward knocked down both of his free throw attempts. Highsmith led Miami’s second unit in scoring with 18 points in 23 minutes off the bench. He finished 7-of-10 (70%) shooting from the field and 2-of-4 (50%) from downtown.

Bam Adebayo recorded team highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes as a starter. It was his 17th career playoff game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The only Heat player with more in franchise history is LeBron James (25).

Additionally, Butler was not the only Heat player to underperform in Game 1. Max Strus was held scoreless and went 0-of-10 shooting from the field, becoming the fourth player to shoot that or worse in an NBA Finals game.

Caleb Martin, who received one less vote than Butler for East Finals MVP, tallied just three points and four boards in 25 minutes. The 6-foot-5 forward shot 1-of-7 from the field as well.

Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals is this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Denver is an 8.5-point favorite over the Heat. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nuggets have a 76.7% chance of improving to 2-0 against Miami.

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