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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    The Mavs, who overcame a late two-point deficit, prevailed 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series, becoming the first NBA side in history to take a 3-0 series lead despite trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in each game.

    Dallas had the second-best clutch record (23-9) and best clutch offence (127.1 points per 100 possessions) during the regular season, and have continued that momentum into the playoffs.

    Indeed, they also came from behind late on in Game 6 of their conference semi-final series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Irving scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, and now has 31 such points this series; the most by any player in this year's conference finals.

    "Unbelievable. That's why some people call him Mr Fourth Quarter, right?" Doncic said of his team-mate. "Just amazing. He's born for these situations. He's born for the clutch situations, so we just get the ball to him."

    "Down the stretch, that's where we make our money," Irving added. "I think we have that poise now, and we're just showcasing our skill sets out there that a lot of teams have to guard, the depth that we have. A lot of teams have to guard each one of us, and you got to pick your poison."

    Irving and Doncic scored 33 points apiece to become the first starting backcourt to each register at least 30 points in three playoff games over the past 50 seasons.

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    "It doesn't mean anything if we don't win a ring together. Right now, I want to show a lot of respect to the guys that have come before us and have actually done it. And our time will come."

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    WIth its star guard tandem leading the way, the fifth-seeded Mavericks dominated the game's final five minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas can eliminate the third-seeded Timberwolves and earn its first trip to the Finals since 2011 when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

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