Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler will not play against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Thursday because of an ankle injury, the team announced. Butler sprained his right ankle in the same building on Wednesday and was ruled out for the rest of the game after playing the entire fourth quarter. Miami went on to lose 120-117 in overtime.
Until now, Butler has played in all 11 of the Heat’s games this season, with spectacular production. Entering Wednesday’s game, he was averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.1 steals in 35.1 minutes, with a 62.4 percent true shooting percentage. If he maintains numbers like these, he will belong in the MVP conversation, particularly if Miami finishes near the top of the Eastern Conference.
With Butler out, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have a decision to make. He could put guard Tyler Herro, who has been on fire for most of the season, in the starting lineup, but this would leave the second unit short on playmaking. If Spoelstra elects to stick with Herro as the sixth man, expect either Gabe Vincent or Caleb Martin to take Butler’s spot. This would shift more offensive responsibility to Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo. Either way, expect more of the two-man game between Adebayo and sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.