Haywood Highsmith (cold), Jimmy Butler (calf), Dru Smith (knee) only Heat players not to practice today. Lowry (ankle) not on injury report. Update on Butler coming later.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 24, 2023
Butler certainly could still play in the team’s game against the Sixers, but it’s not a great sign that he and Highsmith did not practice. Smith is out for the season with a knee injury.
This season, the Heat star is averaging 21.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Miami would certainly miss him if he were to sit out on Monday.
The Heat seemed to finally be getting healthy with Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo returning to the lineup recently, but now Butler is the latest player to be banged up.
The Heat also could use Highsmith – one of their best perimeter defenders – to combat the Sixers’ potent offense. Highsmith could potentially be used to guard rising star guard Tyrese Maxey on Monday if he is able to suit up.
This season, Highsmith has appeared in 19 games for the Heat, making 14 starts. He is averaging 6.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range.
If Butler and Highsmith are unable to go, the Heat will likely rely heavily on Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Caleb Martin on the wing. Jaquez has been impressive in his rookie season, averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 50.5 percent from the field.
The Heat would love to pick up a win at home, but they are just 8-6 at Kaseya Center so far this season. The Sixers have been a solid road team, winning eight of their 12 matchups away from home.
There should be more clarity from the Heat on Butler and Highsmith’s status once the team releases its injury report for the game. As of 11:30 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve, the team had not submitted an official injury report.
The Heat and Sixers are scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. EST on Christmas.