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Offseason | NBA Week 26

Without Jimmy Butler, Heat look to eliminate Bulls

Thu Apr 18 6:56pm ET
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Instead of counting on Jimmy Butler to lead the team into the postseason, the Miami Heat will be in full collective-effort mode when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in the loser-goes-home play-in game.

Butler will sit out with a sprained MCL in his right knee that was sustained during Wednesday's 105-104 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler underwent an MRI exam Thursday that determined the severity. It is possible that Butler has played his final game of the 2023-24 season, whether or not the Heat win the pivotal game against Chicago.

"It felt like I couldn't do too much, which sucks with the timing of the game and everything," Butler said after the Philadelphia game. "I hope that I'm fine. ... Right now, I can't say that's the case."


The winner of the Miami-Chicago game advances to play the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Butler was injured in the first quarter of Wednesday's game and remained in the contest. He finished with 19 points but was just 5-of-18 shooting.

His lack of effectiveness was noticeable in the second half. Butler took just two shots -- making one -- in the final quarter.

"I wasn't able to do anything on either side of the ball," Butler said. "I think I hurt us more than I helped us, actually."

The Heat also will need better efforts from Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo against the Bulls. Herro scored 25 points against Philadelphia but made just nine of 27 shots. Adebayo had just 10 points but did collect 12 rebounds.

The loss to the 76ers leaves Miami in a similar position as last season when the Heat lost their first play-in game (to Atlanta) before beating Chicago 102-91 in the second contest to reach the playoffs. The Heat eventually advanced to the NBA Finals before losing to the Denver Nuggets.

Miami finished with a 15-1 burst to overcome the Bulls last season.

"I remember that plane ride back home vividly," Chicago guard DeMar DeRozan said. "Everybody was just frustrated. That feeling sucked. I know for me, that's one thing that's on my mind once I realized we were going back to Miami -- to not have that same feeling."

The Bulls earned this trip to South Florida by virtue of a 131-116 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Coby White poured in 42 points -- a career best, though the game won't count toward official stat-keeping -- to lead the way.

White also is fueled by last season's loss and felt this season's four games against Miami were highly contested. The teams split two two-game sets this season.

"It's going to be a junkyard fight, a dogfight," White said. "We know Miami, they know us. ... We have to come in ready to compete and leave it all on the floor."

Bulls guard Alex Caruso is questionable with a sprained left ankle. He sustained the injury when teammate Andre Drummond was running up court and stepped on his ankle. Drummond (left ankle) and Ayo Dosunmu (quadricep) also are questionable and played Wednesday despite their injuries.

Caruso is expecting his club to be ready for the task.

"We've got guys on the team when the lights come on and they are bright, they step up to the challenge," Caruso said. "I've had moments like that in my career; DeMar countless numbers. (Nikola Vucevic) has played playoff basketball."

"I think that's one of great strengths that we do have guys who can go off any given night. Coby's put in the work. It's not surprising for us because we know how good he can be and that's how confident we want him to play all the time."

Miami guard Terry Rozier (neck) also has been ruled out of Friday's game. This will be his sixth straight missed game.

Player Notes
Kyle Anderson Mon May 27 10:00am

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson had a good 17-minute outing off the bench in Sunday's Game 3 loss to the Mavericks. He finished with 10 points, three assists, and two blocks, scoring eight of his points inside a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter to give Minnesota a 104-102 lead. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the team was able to add just three more points on the board in the final five minutes, losing 116-107. Minnesota has had an awful time in the series, losing all three games so far, but Anderson has done well in the matchup. He's shot 63.2 percent from the field to average 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 18.0 minutes.

Karl-Anthony Towns Mon May 27 9:50am

Minnesota Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns had another night to forget in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday, finishing a 116-107 loss to Dallas with 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting. His ugly shooting performance included a 0-for-8 effort from three-point range. Towns has been very active from deep in the series, but he's nailed only three shots, with his 13.6 percent efficiency the worst in Conference Finals history among players with at least five attempts. Overall, Towns has shot 27.8 percent in the series to average 15 points. On Sunday, the Timberwolves big man at least managed to salvage some of his line with a game-high 11 rebounds, which gave him his seventh postseason double-double of the year. The Timberwolves need a massive improvement from Towns to extend their season beyond Tuesday's Game 4.

Anthony Edwards Mon May 27 9:40am

Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Anthony Edwards posted a team-high 26 points in Sunday's Game 3 loss against Dallas, shooting 11-for-24 from the field with no makes from downtown. It was another inefficient scoring performance from the Timberwolves star, although Edwards played better compared to the previous games and was even close to triple-double numbers. The 22-year-old picked up nine rebounds with nine assists and two turnovers. Edwards has been limited to only 38.6 percent shooting in the Western Conference Finals, and the Timberwolves are in big trouble following three losses.

Derrick Jones Jr. Mon May 27 9:30am

Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. demonstrated perfect three-point shooting in Sunday's Game 3 win over the Timberwolves, hitting 3-for-3 from deep to finish with 11 points. These are his first made threes in the series after Jones Jr. went 0-for-5 in the first two games. On Sunday, he also recorded a pair of rebounds and assists while producing a game-best plus-15 rating in 33 minutes on the floor. Jones Jr. has been a solid two-way contributor for the Mavericks during their playoff run, but he's been quiet in the matchup against Minnesota as Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic have taken over. Through three games, Jones Jr. has averaged 7.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.

Mike Conley Mon May 27 9:30am

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley had a 16-point outing with 4-for-7 shooting from deep in Sunday's 116-107 loss to Dallas. Conley scored each of the team's first five points and had a good shooting night with a 6-for-11 effort from the field despite an early trip to the locker room. The veteran continues to play through a calf problem, which forced him to miss one game in the previous series. Across 31 minutes of action, Conley added one rebound, four assists, and one steal to his line while committing only one turnover, although he had a game-worst minus-16 rating. Following a six-point dud in Game 1, Conley has enjoyed two productive outings, but the team needs even more from him, as Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns are slumping.

Kyrie Irving Mon May 27 9:20am

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving scored a very efficient 33 points as the team grabbed a 3-0 lead against Minnesota in the Western Conference Finals with a 116-107 victory on Sunday. After enjoying a strong finish in Game 2, Irving got off to a good start and ran the show for Dallas alongside Luka Doncic, who also posted 33 points. Irving shot 12-for-20 from the field with a 3-for-6 record from deep and recorded three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 42 minutes. With him shooting well over 50 percent and averaging 27.7 points in the series, the Mavericks are well-placed to close out the Timberwolves quickly.

Luka Doncic Mon May 27 9:20am

Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic had his third consecutive 30-point game against Minnesota in the Western Conference Finals on Sunday, contributing 33 points on 10-for-20 shooting in a 116-107 win. Half of his makes came with 11 attempts from three-point range, while Doncic was 8-for-10 with his free throws. He put together a full line, finishing with seven rebounds, five assists, five steals, and one block. Khris Middleton was previously the only player in NBA playoffs history to record at least 30 points with five made triples, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Doncic reportedly continues to carry several health issues, but you wouldn't say so based on his performances.

Tyrese Haliburton Sun May 26 7:40pm

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) is questionable for Monday's postseason showdown with the Celtics. He tweaked his left hamstring in Game 2 and didn't return. Haliburton also carried the same injury designation heading into Game 3. However, the 24-year-old wasn't out there. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Indiana will "err on the side of caution" regarding Haliburton's health while adding that there is a growing possibility he won't return for the rest of this series. If that's the case, Andrew Nembhard, coming off a 32-point, nine-assist showing in Game 3, will continue to see plenty of interest from DFS managers. The same applies to Pascal Siakam, T.J. McConnell, and Myles Turner.

Luka Doncic Sun May 26 7:20pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (knee, ankle) will play on Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had a triple-double in Game 2, doing so despite battling lingering knee and ankle soreness. While Doncic's shooting numbers haven't been the best throughout the postseason, he remains a top DFS option for Game 3.

Jrue Holiday Sun May 26 6:10pm

Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday (illness) is questionable for Monday's playoff meeting with the Pacers. He's battling a non-COVID-related illness and held the same designation heading into Game 3 on Saturday night. However, the veteran was active and finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, and three steals in 38 minutes of work. With that said, the C's are up three games, so the team could give him a night off if needed. If that's the case, Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser would presumably pick up extra minutes.

Luke Kornet Sun May 26 6:10pm

Boston Celtics center Luke Kornet (wrist) is questionable for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Indiana Pacers. He injured his wrist in Game 2 and wasn't available for Saturday's comeback win. However, with the Celtics just one win away from the NBA Finals, the team could play it safe by keeping him off the floor. With Kristaps Porzingis (calf) already ruled out, Al Horford would continue operating as the starting center, with Xavier Tillman Sr. in line to get more work. Unfortunately, Tillman hasn't done much this postseason, so DFS managers shouldn't consider him for their lineups.

Kristaps Porzingis Sun May 26 6:00pm

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (calf) is out for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Pacers. There were reports that the veteran could return for this contest after missing nearly a month because of a right Soleus strain. But truth be told, the Celtics likely won't need him during the series, meaning the team could keep Porzingis resting until the NBA Finals, assuming the club advances. At any rate, there's still a chance his injury designation could change heading into Monday night. Yet, if Porzingis doesn't return, Al Horford will remain the No. 1 option in the middle. In addition, Xavier Tillman Sr. might get a few minutes in Game 4 if Luke Kornet (wrist) can't suit up after sitting out on Saturday night.

LeBron James Sun May 26 5:50pm

According to Evan Sidery of Forbes Sports, the Phoenix Suns "are hoping to pursue" LeBron James this offseason. While the multi-time MVP still needs to decline his $51.4 million player option with the Los Angeles Lakers, it appears more likely that he will test the open market over the summer. Of course, the Suns don't have the cash to offer James a lucrative deal, meaning he would need to consider taking significantly less if he hopes to team with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. But he has made plenty of money throughout his career, so adding another championship to his resume could be a selling point. The Suns reportedly view Bronny James as "a very serious draft option," which could help Phoenix in their quest to add the NBA's All-Time leading scorer.

Kristaps Porzingis Sun May 26 1:30pm

According to Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, center Kristaps Porzingis (calf) is still not a lock to return for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Indiana. There were reports the veteran could be back on Monday night. However, Mazzulla has repeatedly denied these reports. Porzingis hasn't played in nearly a month because of a Soleus strain. But with Boston up three games in the series and one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals, the team may keep Porzingis on the shelf for a little longer. At any rate, with Luke Kornet (wrist) missing Game 3 on Saturday night, Al Horford could continue to absorb most of the minutes in the middle in Game 4, with Xavier Tillman Sr. getting a few minutes from off the bench.

Tyrese Haliburton Sun May 26 1:20pm

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) isn't expected to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Boston. Not only that but there's "real doubt" regarding his availability for the remainder of the series. Of course, that could mean Haliburton won't play again until the start of the 2024-25 campaign, especially since the Pacers are down three games and one loss away from elimination. But while Haliburton is on the shelf, Andrew Nembhard, coming off a 32-point, nine-assist performance in Game 3, will be a favorite of DFS managers. At the same time, Myles Turner, Pascal Siakam, and T.J. McConnell could continue to see an increase in fantasy production.

Jaylen Brown Sun May 26 12:10am

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown had 24 points in Saturday night's comeback victory over the Indiana Pacers. He added three assists, two rebounds, one block, and one steal. The 27-year-old scored 40 points in Game 2. While Brown wasn't as potent this time around, he still did enough to get Boston one game closer to the NBA Finals. DFS managers should anticipate Brown to continue to log heavy minutes and take plenty of shots in Game 4 on Monday night.

Jayson Tatum Sun May 26 12:00am

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 36 points in Saturday's win over the Pacers. The Celtics trailed for most of the contest. However, the team got it together to go up three games in the series. The 26-year-old had a tough time finding the bottom of the net in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. But he turned things around in Game 3, going 12-for-23 from the field and 5-for-10 from behind the arc, adding 10 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and one steal. Nevertheless, Boston can close out the series on Monday. Of course, DFS managers should expect Tatum to stay highly motivated in hopes of taking the C's back to the NBA Finals.

Luka Doncic Sat May 25 11:50pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (knee, ankle) is listed as questionable for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals versus the Timberwolves. The multi-time All-Star will be on the floor on Sunday, barring a setback, considering these injuries have lingered for weeks. Doncic had a triple-double in Game 2 on Friday night, although it's obvious he's dealing with a considerable amount of pain at times. With that in mind, DFS managers already know he's a top fantasy producer, even with his subpar shooting numbers throughout the postseason.

Mike Conley Sat May 25 11:50pm

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (calf) is questionable for Sunday's postseason showdown with the Dallas Mavericks. The veteran will likely continue to deal with a right Soleus strain for the rest of the postseason, so DFS managers should anticipate his presence on the injury report moving ahead. However, he should be fine to play through it, barring a significant setback. Conley struggled in Game 1, scoring only six points. But he had 18 points in Game 2. With that said, the 36-year-old is not a consistent fantasy option, making him a risky roster choice for Game 3.

Jrue Holiday Sat May 25 8:10pm

Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday (illness) is available for Saturday's meeting with the Pacers. Holiday was added to the injury report because of a non-COVID-related illness. But he participated and shootaround before the game, so he feels well enough to give it a go. The 33-year-old has played well during the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 21.5 points, 9.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He's also shot 58.3% from deep. However, Indiana won't have Tyrese Haliburton for Game 3, meaning Holiday could see less work than usual if the Celtics build a big lead.