Miami Heat receive triple dose of tough injury news as they prepare to fight for their season

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the Miami Heat’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls in the play-in tournament — which will determine who plays the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs — Miami received unfortunate injury updates on both Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier.

Butler has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL and will be sidelined for multiple weeks.

Rozier — who hasn’t played for the Heat since April 7 due to a neck injury — won’t take the court against the Bulls either.

In addition, Bulls guard Alex Caruso reportedly could end up being available for Chicago in the elimination game. While player health should always be celebrated in the basketball world, the Heat likely aren’t jumping for joy at the idea of Caruso being available.

The Heat have to play the Bulls for their playoff lives on Friday because the team lost its first play-in game to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

At halftime, it seemed as if the Heat were primed to beat the 76ers and secure a first-round matchup against the New York Knicks. After all, the Heat were up 12 points at the break and held Philadelphia to only 39 points in the first half.

But Butler and the Heat were outplayed in the second half, as they were outscored by 13 points across the final two quarters. Embiid was a major part of Philadelphia’s successful second half, considering he dropped 11 points in the fourth quarter alone and finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

The big man arguably outplayed a hobbled Butler — who converted just five of his 18 shots from the floor — from an offensive standpoint.

While the Heat are fresh off a loss in the play-in tournament, the Bulls had to win their play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks in order to earn a chance to play for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls earned a 15-point victory over Trae Young and company behind a brilliant scoring performance from guard Coby White. White finished with a career-high 42 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the floor and 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

By not taking care of business against the 76ers, the Heat have put themselves in a precarious position, considering their season will end on Friday if they can’t pull out a win against the Bulls sans Butler and Rozier.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.