NBA

Heat top scorer Butler expected to miss several weeks with knee injury

By Sports Desk April 18, 2024

The Miami Heat won’t have injured leading scorer Jimmy Butler in the lineup when they host the Chicago Bulls in Friday’s Eastern Conference do-or-die play-in tournament game.

Butler will be sidelined for several weeks due to a right MCL injury sustained in Wednesday’s 105-104 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who clinched the No. 7 seed in the East.

Butler was hurt late in the first quarter when he tried to fake out Philadelphia’s Kelly Oubre Jr. and his knee buckled, causing the six-time All-Star to fall to the court.

A hobbled Butler remained in the game and wound up playing 40 minutes. He scored 19 points but shot 5 of 18 from the field.

Butler led Miami in the regular season with 20.8 points, 5.0 assists and 1.32 steals per game while also averaging 5.3 rebounds.

Last season, Butler won the Larry Bird Trophy as the MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals as No. 8 seed Miami advanced to the NBA Finals before losing in five games to the Denver Nuggets.

The winner of Friday’s matchup between Miami and Chicago will capture the No. 8 seed in the East and move on to play the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

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    Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half as Minnesota held off a late Dallas rally for a 105-100 road win, forcing a Game 5 in Minneapolis on Thursday.

    That came after a difficult start to the series for the four-time All-Star, with coach Chris Finch saying it was "hard to watch" his struggles in Game 3.

    Towns shot just 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, but was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range on Tuesday.

    Edwards, who narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, said Towns was the primary reason the Timberwolves retained hope of an NBA Finals berth. 

    "Everything came together for him; he was super confident," Edwards said of Towns. 

    "He played exceptionally well, and he came through big-time. He was the reason we won tonight."

    Finch echoed Edwards' praise, saying: "KAT's a great player. His struggles were not going to last forever. He got himself going. 

    "Even when he got deep in foul trouble, we left him out there, just let him roll, and he played smart, played under control, rebounded really well for us, executed defensively. We're really proud of him. Tonight was a great step for him."

    While it was Towns' efforts that gave Minnesota a lead to defend, it was Edwards who made certain of the victory with a mid-range jumper after the Mavs pulled within three points just over a minute before the buzzer. 

    Towns, who fouled out with one minute and 38 seconds on the clock, said of his team-mate's game-sealing shot: "I was on the bench and had a front-row seat. I feel like he was visualising that make and he got to exactly the spot he wanted to.

    "I'm honoured to be playing with my brother here, seeing him every day put the work in, and I knew when he got to that shot it was a high likelihood he was going to make that."

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    Facing a 3-0 series deficit on the road, the Wolves conjured their best defensive game of the series to force a Game 5 on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

    Dallas' Luka Doncic finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists but was held to 7-for-21 shooting. Kyrie Irving shot 6 of 18 from the field to finish with 16 points.

    "That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy," Doncic told reporters after the game. "They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one."

    Towns, who shot 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offense, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Doncic pump fake at the 3-point line.

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    The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas' following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

    The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

    No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series lead, but the Wolves will hope to keep the pressure on Dallas in Game 5.

     

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    “That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy,” Dončić told reporters after the game. “They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one.”

    Towns, who shot 27.8 percent in the series’ first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offence, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Dončić pump fake at the 3-point line.

    Edwards was assertive from the opening tip, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

    The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas’ following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

    The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

    No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series lead, but the Wolves will hope to keep the pressure on Dallas in Game 5.

     

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