NEW YORK — At times in the 2023 playoffs, Jimmy Butler has appeared to be superhuman. In six games, the Miami Heat star has averaged a league-best 35.5 points on 66.2 percent true shooting, plus 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Butler is human, though, which means, as inconvenient as it may be, his ankles are made of human stuff. He was able to stay on the floor after a nasty sprain with about five minutes left in Game 1 of Miami’s second-round series against the New York Knicks on Sunday, but he didn’t do much down the stretch. His status for Game 2 on Tuesday is unclear.
“He’s doing treatment round the clock,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “Probably won’t have any update until before the game.”
The Heat took the series opener thanks largely to a crunch-time performance that belongs in Kyle Lowry’s personal pantheon. Miami got three leak-out buckets on Kevin Love outlet passes in the third quarter, a timely 3 from Gabe Vincent in the fourth and just about the best results it could have hoped for from its halftime adjustment on defense. It was a one-possession game when Butler got hurt, though, and the Knicks could have counters ready (or simply shoot better than 20.6 percent from 3-point range).
“We know our margin for error is not huge,” Spoelstra said.
If Butler doesn’t play — or is hampered by the injury — then that margin is microscopic. And his ankle isn’t even the only one that represents a huge variable in this series. Julius Randle, New York’s All-Star forward, missed Game 1 with a sprain of his own. Spoelstra said the Heat have prepped for “all the different scenarios,” and that all their injuries (Tyler Herro broke his hand and Victor Oladipo tore his patellar tendon in the first round) have “kept us on edge,” in a good way.
“It’s just staying in the moment of what the situation is,” Lowry said Monday. “Julius Randle may play. Different coverages, different matchups. They may play different guys more, another guy less, who knows. So for us, we watched the film for what we…
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Author : James Herbert
Publish date : 2023-05-01 22:39:01
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