Jimmy Butler offers cautiously optimistic update on his nagging knee injury

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Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler has dealt with a right knee injury this season, but he did receive some positive news from a recent doctor’s visit about his knee.

Butler met with a doctor on Saturday in Los Angeles, and while he can still play on the knee, there is work he needs to do to keep it in good enough shape for him to do so.

“I still got some work to do, though,” Butler said. “It’s not where it needs to be, but I got [Heat assistant athletic trainer Armando Rivas] to make sure that I’m good. We just got to maintain this thing and take care of it. I mean, it’s part of the game, but I want to be right, I wanted to be a hundred [percent] so I can go out there and do what I’m supposed to do.”

Butler missed the team’s game against the Utah Jazz on Saturday because of the knee. He has only played in 23 games this season, and the Heat have gotten off to a bit of a slow start since he’s been in and out of the lineup.

Part of the goal to manage Butler’s knee is to not play in him both games when the team is in a back-to-back scenario. The team implemented that in December, and Butler missed games against the Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah.

However, only the games against Utah, Oklahoma City and Detroit were on the first or second night of a back-to-back.

“It is. Because I can go out there and compete,” Butler said when asked if the injury is trending in a positive direction. “I can’t say that I’m fully healthy. But there are a lot of people that are not. So I think that’s good on a lot of levels. The more rest that I have and able to get that recovery that I need is always going to be better. So hell, whenever I’m not playing, I’m doing something to try to get it right.”

The bright side for Heat fans is that Butler is getting better, but it’s still concerning that he’s dealing with this with so much more of the season to go.

The Heat are obviously hoping to make a deep run into the playoffs, and Butler is a key part of that, especially since he carried the team in the postseason in the 2021-22 campaign.

Butler helped the Heat force a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat have gone on deep playoff runs in two of the last three seasons, and it’s possible that has taken a bit of a toll on their star player.

Despite the injury, Butler is still playing at a high level in the 2022-23 season. He is averaging 21.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Miami is currently the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference after the New York Knicks won on Monday to jump them in the standings.

The Heat will look to do the same when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. EST on Monday night.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.