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Heat's lineup shuffling continues as Jimmy Butler sits, Tyler Herro returns

Injuries and COVID-19 have prevented the defending Eastern Conference champions from establishing lineup consistency all season.

Jimmy Butler missed the Heat’s win against the Hawks on Sunday.

The Miami Heat’s lineup shuffling continued Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, as star guard Jimmy Butler missed his first game in a month due to a knee injury. Second-year guard Tyler Herro, meanwhile, slide back into the lineup after missing the past three games with a hip injury.

The Heat beat the Hawks 109-99 to get their sixth straight win and climb back to .500 and Herro had 12 of his 14 points for Miami in the fourth quarter. The six straight wins is Miami’s longest such regular-season streak since a seven-game run midway through the 2017-18 season. The Heat had a seven-game win streak in last season’s playoffs as well.

Over his last 15 games, Butler averaged 21.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 8.7 assists while lifting the Heat from a slow start to the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

“We want to be proactive about it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler’s injury. “He will be day-to-day from here.”

Herro is averaging 16.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists despite a fluctuating role due to a slew of Miami injuries and early-season bout with COVID-19.

Game Recap: Heat 109, Hawks 99

The defending Eastern Conference champions have taken a next-man-up approach to a season hammered by uncertainty. Fourteen different Heat players have started at least one game this season. Only three — Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and Kelly Olynyk — had started more than two thirds of Miami’s games entering Sunday night.

Miami has somehow persevered despite the setbacks. That trend continued in the Heat’s 109-99 win over the Hawks. Kendrick Nunn was the latest hero, scoring a team-high 24 points as Miami secured its sixth consecutive victory.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.