Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Heat star Butler sidelined for several weeks

Published:Friday | April 19, 2024 | 12:13 AM
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (left) talks with Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler following an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (left) talks with Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler following an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Philadelphia.

MIAMI (AP):

The results are in: Jimmy Butler is out.

Butler will not be able to play for the Miami Heat in a win-or-else game tonight night against the Chicago Bulls in the NBA’s play-in tournament because of a right knee injury, one that will sideline him for several weeks.

An exam yesterday showed that he sprained the MCL (medial collateral ligament), an injury that typically takes at least four weeks or more to heal.

That means if Miami win tonight, they still won’t have Butler for a Round 1 playoff matchup with the Boston Celtics — a daunting matchup even if Butler was healthy. Boston, the top playoff overall seed, finished 18 games ahead of Miami and went 3-0 against the Heat in the regular season.

“We will do this the hard way,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in Philadelphia on Wednesday night when Butler played most of the game after getting hurt and Miami lost 105-104 — missing out on a chance to be the No. 7 seed in the East. “That has to be the path right now.”

The path gets much harder now for the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

Butler was injured in the first quarter of the game in Philadelphia, grabbing at the knee in obvious pain and limping throughout the remainder of the contest — but staying in the game most of the way. He played 40 minutes, finishing with 19 points, four rebounds, five assists, and five steals.

His mobility appeared to get worse as the game went along, and Spoelstra said post-game that Butler’s knee kept getting stiffer and stiffer. Butler was 2 for 4 from the floor when he got hurt — then just 3 for 14 in the remainder of the game.

“I thought the adrenaline would kick back in and I’d be able to move,” Butler said after the game. “And it just wasn’t the case. I wasn’t able to do anything on either side of the ball, and I think I hurt us more than I helped us, actually.”

Butler’s absence tonight will only add to serious injury issues for the Heat.

Miami have been without starting point guard Terry Rozier for two weeks because of a neck injury and will play without him again today. Shooting guard Duncan Robinson has missed 10 of Miami’s last 15 games with a back problem, and in the five games he did play in that stretch, he was clearly affected — shooting only six for 26 (23 per cent) from three-point range. For his career, he is a 40 per cent shooter from beyond the arc.

“We’ve had experience with that,” Heat centre Bam Adebayo said of playing shorthanded. “The biggest thing for us is to rally around each other and get the W.”