MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler will make his regular season debut after missing the first three games of the season due to the birth of his firstborn daughter.
The Miami Heat (2-1) are playing against the Atlanta Hawks (2-1) at the AmericanAirlines Arena, Tuesday night.
“A nice energy on the practice court today just going through the shootaround,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Butler’s return. “He’s excited to be back. We’re thrilled for him and his family, and then to be able to start this process in the regular season together.”
Butler missed the first three games of the regular season to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their daughter, Riley.
The Heat went 2-1 during Butler’s paternity leave, but he said that although he’s excited to get back onto the court, becoming a father to his new daughter has given him a whole new purpose in life.
“Everybody’s good. I’ve been trying to get some rest, but I get to get back to work now,” Butler said as he chuckled. “The baby was here, like, a week and some change late, but I just had a feeling that God was gonna show me what’s truly important in life. Like, the whole week leading up that I was like, ‘OK, all right. Like, ain’t nobody gonna know anything as long as I’m not gonna miss no games. I still wanna hoop.’ And then God was like, ‘Nah, this is family. This is everything.’ It happened to be on opening night.”
Butler said he does not want his first regular season game to be a distraction.
“To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t be mad if coach brought me off the bench,” he said. “I know it’s not going to happen, but it’ll just like– it’ll kill all the show.”
However, guard Kendrick Nunn said he can’t wait to see what Butler can do once he gets on the court.
“I think he’s gonna fit perfect,” Nunn said. “We share the ball pretty well. We already have the chemistry and previous practices, so it’ll be good.”
While the team has shown it can win games without the four-time NBA All-Star, having him back makes the Heat a stronger and deeper team.
“He’s obviously immensely talented,” forward-center Meyers Leonard said. “Again, he’s unselfish. He’s gonna defend. He’s gonna find others on the offensive end, and when we need him to get a bucket, he’ll get a bucket, so it makes the game easier for everybody.”
Another player returning to the team is guard Dion Waiters.
However, he will be inactive for the game against the Hawks. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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