2024 SoFi Play-In Tournament

Heat guard Jimmy Butler out for Play-In game with sprained MCL

Miami's star swingman will miss Friday's SoFi Play-In Tournament game against the Chicago Bulls.

Jimmy Butler injured his right knee in Miami’s Play-In loss to Philadelphia.

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Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler will miss Friday’s SoFi Play-In Tournament game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right MCL, the team announced Thursday. That kind of injury typically takes at least four weeks or more to heal.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania report Butler is expected to miss several weeks due to the injury, which he suffered in the first half of the Heat’s 105-104 Play-In Tournament loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

The Heat will host the Bulls on Friday night (7 ET, ESPN), with the winner of that game getting the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed.

How it happened: Butler was hurt late in the first quarter when he tried to fake out Kelly Oubre Jr. on a bucket, only to have his knee buckle and he fell to the court. Oubre appeared to land on the Heat star, who led the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2023.

“I fell, he landed and my knee just didn’t do well, I guess,” Butler said. “I don’t know. It’s not a good feeling, I can tell you that.”

Butler sank the free throw, exhaled and missed the second one. His mobility appeared to get worse as the game went along, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said postgame 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, finishing with 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and five steals in 40 minutes of action.

“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.”

Impact on Heat: Butler, a former Sixer, scored 20.8 points in 60 games for the Heat. The 34-year-old Butler said he stayed in the game because he thought the “adrenaline would kick back in” and he would feel healthy enough to play at his usual level.

Butler’s absence will place a greater scoring burden on several players, including All-Star big man Bam Adebayo and versatile swingman Tyler Herro. Adebayo finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds and took nine shots vs. the 76ers. Herro took a team-leading 27 shots and finished with 25 points, but shot just 33.3% overall and 28.6% on 3-pointers in the loss.

Miami has been without starting point guard Terry Rozier for two weeks because of a neck injury and will play without him again on Friday. 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 affected — shooting only 6 for 26 (23%) from 3-point range. He’s made 40% of his 3-pointers in his career.

Last season, Miami captured the No. 8 seed via the Play-In Tournament and parlayed that into a surprising run to the NBA Finals. However, Butler was available for all but one game of that playoff run (while Herro missed it in its entirety) and provided several memorable performances. Miami will now have to clinch the No. 8 seed and create a playoff run without him, both of which are a tall order.

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

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.