When the Heat play the Celtics on Tuesday night on TNT, the game may very well determine whether the Celtics lock into the 3-seed in the East or if they will have a battle on their hands the remainder of the way in the seeding round.
Boston currently sits 1.5 games up on Miami, meaning a Heat win would bring them within a half game of Boston but a loss would give the Celtics more than a two game cushion. As such, it’s a critical game in terms of Eastern Conference seeding, but after coming up just short against the Raptors on Monday, Miami will have an uphill battle on the back-to-back as Jimmy Butler was announced as out with right ankle soreness about an hour before tipoff.
Jimmy Butler (right ankle soreness) is OUT tonight for the Heat.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) August 4, 2020
This obviously is a major loss for the Heat, as Butler is the team’s leading scorer at just over 20 points per game, while also being a key force on defense. Butler missed a practice on Sunday due to a mysterious excused absence, but did play in the loss to Toronto. Whether this ankle soreness has been a lingering issue or something new is not known, but it is something to keep an eye on going forward. Miami is obviously being cautious with their star’s health, sitting him despite the seeding implications of the game, knowing it’s far more important that he’s healthy come playoff time.
It’ll be incumbent on Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Goran Dragic to fill some of the void of Butler’s on-ball creation abilities, and may lead to more minutes for Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder on the wing to give them more defensive presence. Against a Celtics team loaded with wing scorers, the challenge for the Heat without Butler is tremendous, but they’ve always prided themselves on being able to have players step in and fill bigger roles when needed.