Jimmy Butler not with Heat due to a personal family issue, could possibly return for Sunday in San Antonio.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 11, 2023
Butler’s absence comes with the Heat also missing Tyler Herro, who is sidelined with a sprained ankle. In addition, Caleb Martin remains out with a knee injury. Jamal Cain, Nikola Jovic and Cole Swider are back with the team for Saturday’s game.
Butler had been listed as probable on the injury report for Saturday with knee tendinitis. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Friday that with Herro on the shelf for a little while, he wants Butler’s usage rate to increase, but that obviously can’t happen with the veteran out.
Erik Spoelstra on playing without Tyler Herro: “We’ll have to really lean into our defense.” Adds that he wants Jimmy Butler’s usage rate to go up.
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) November 10, 2023
On the bright side, Miami has won three in a row after losing four straight and enters the game against Atlanta with a 4-4 record.
After an interesting preseason which included a unique emo look for Butler, he has averaged 18.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in seven appearances this season. In the 2022-23 campaign, he averaged 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest.
Herro and Bam Adebayo have been carrying the Heat offense so far, leading the team with 22.9 points and 22.7 points per game, respectively.
Kyle Lowry stepped up after Herro was injured in a 108-102 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The veteran fell just short of a triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The 37-year-old will be asked to step up again with Butler now joining Herro as unavailable. The 34-year-old team leader may be able to return for the game Sunday against rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs, though that could be difficult given the back-to-back situation.
After a disappointing offseason that saw the Heat fall short of acquiring a new star such as Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday or Bradley Beal — and constant trade rumors surrounding Herro — Miami got off to a 1-4 start to the 2023-24 NBA season.
Following a slow start himself, Butler has seemingly rounded into form and scored 28 points in a 108-107 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
The Heat are surely hoping that the family matter Butler is dealing with is not very serious and that he can return quickly and continue to contribute to their recent turnaround.