Jimmy Butler’s absence in practice leads to question marks down the road.
When the Heat practiced Sunday afternoon they were without their star player. Teammates revealed Butler is in self-isolation inside the bubble. With no timetable for the five-time All-Star’s isolation, he may miss Monday and Tuesday’s game when his team faces the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, respectively.
“It is definitely a curveball for all of us to hear stuff like what’s going on with him and you never know what to expect,” Heat forward Jae Crowder said of Butler’s situation after practice. “It is just next man up mentality for us.”
The Heat opened the restart with a 125-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. In 30 minutes, Butler scored 22 points, dished seven assists and cleared four boards. As always, the four-time All-Defensive Second Team selection had his hustle and lockdown defense on display.
The Heat (42-24) are two games back from the Celtics (44-22) for the 3-seed.
These next two games may be the most pivotal of the seven remaining seeding games for the Heat. Currently slotted at the 4-spot, Miami has the Indiana Pacers two games behind them. The Pacers are coming off a win where they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers with Victor Oladipo returning from injury.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned that Butler’s excused absence has no timeline for return. Regardless, Crowder is confident that Butler will be ready to go once he is cleared. During this time the Heat can evaluate their depth, center Kelly Olynyk said.
“We want him out here and he is key to our team,” Olynyk told reporters. “But it is definitely great to get some other guys some reps … we could use that to our advantage.”