NBA: Butler injury blow wrecks Heat's playoff plans

AFP , Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is set to miss the crunch play-in game with the Chicago Bulls on Friday amid reports he has suffered knee ligament damage.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers during the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament at the Wells Fargo Center on April 17, 2024 in Philadelphia, AFP


Butler was hurt in a collision under the basket with Kelly Oubre Jr, who fell on Butler's right leg late in the first quarter of Wednesday's 105-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler stayed in the game and finished with 19 points and five steals but was limping noticeably by the end.

No official word has been given on Butler's status but media reports said he had suffered an MCL injury and faced several weeks out of action, which would be a massive blow to Miami should they advance to the playoffs.

The Athletic cited 'league sources' as saying Butler faced "multiple weeks" out after what they said was "feared" to be an MCL injury.

ESPN said their sources had indicated that Butler would be out of for "several weeks" with the MCL.

Butler said after the game that he would be undergoing an MRI scan on Thursday.

The winner of the Heat's elimination clash with the Bulls will take the number eight seed in the East and earn a first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Last year, the Heat snuck into the playoffs via the same route and went on to beat Boston in the Eastern Conference finals before losing to eventual champions the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.

Such a deep run this year, without Butler, seems a highly unlikely prospect.

"Completely two different years, two different teams, two different situations,” guard Tyler Herro said after Wednesday's loss.

"You can’t really compare last year to this year. But we’ll continue to fight and get ready for Friday. That’s the only thing that we can do right now," he said.

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