Erik Spoelstra Lauds Jimmy Butler’s Ability to Close in Crunch Time

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday Nov. 14 2019 in Denver. The Nuggets won 101-93

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday Nov. 14 2019 in Denver. The Nuggets won 101-93

On Friday, head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media, including SNY's Colin Martin, that Irving is making nice progress in his return from a right shoulder impingement, even joining the team for "on-court work". How close remains uncertain.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22), left, drives against Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in NY.

"With Kyrie, the good news is he's on-court now and working, so that's really good news", Atkinson said before the Nets' 109-106 loss to the Heat at Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon. "No contact yet and no specific timetable. So I feel good about it in that sense". The options are either keep him as a starter until Caris LeVert (thumb) is back or return him to his previous sixth-man role. "Lot of things to juggle there, but I think we've got to focus on this group right now and cross that bridge when we get to it", he said. "Out for Miami and then we'll see going forward".

"I think we finally showed ourselves what we're capable of when we guard", Butler said.

Dinwiddie said he would be open to whatever decision Atkinson makes.

The Nets went 9-6 in November, their first season with a winning record in that month since 2012. How deep are you?

"You start going into your 13th guy, 14th guy, 15th guy, can those guys come and help you win games?" Atkinson said. "And I'd just give our guys, our program, a B+, A in that sense, that we've come out of this thing with the injuries we've had looking in a positive direction". "I know whenever the fourth quarter rolls around, it may be my time to take some good shots, some bad shots, get to the line".

Center Jarrett Allen's streak of double-doubles was snapped at four.

Bam Adebayo had 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat, who trailed 106-99 but pitched a shutout from there and got the victory thanks largely to the aggressiveness of Butler.

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