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Jimmy Butler questionable to play Sunday vs. Blazers

Heat, Jimmy Butler

The Miami Heat may be without All-Star forward Jimmy Butler when they face the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday evening. The team’s official injury report Butler listed him as questionable before the game tips off as he deals with back soreness.

If Butler can’t suit up on Sunday, it would be a major setback for the Heat, as he’s been their best player this season. His elite two-way play has powered Miami to a 25-10 record, the third-best mark in the Eastern Conference. He’s averaging 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.6 assists and two steals in 35.4 minutes per game while playing typically stellar defense.

Butler is all but certain to make his fifth career All-Star appearance in his first season with his new team. Thus far, Butler appears to have found a long-term home in Miami after a tumultuous two seasons filled with controversy.

After unceremonious exits from his last three teams (the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers), Butler joined the Heat over the summer on a four-year, $140 million deal as a free agent. He went to the Heat in a complex four-team sign-and-trade in which Miami sent guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia and center Hassan Whiteside to Portland, and received Butler from Philadelphia and center Meyers Leonard from Portland.

Leonard and Whiteside are set to face their former teams for the first time on Sunday when the Heat face off against the Blazers.

In addition to Butler, forward Justise Winslow is set to miss the game for the Heat. Winslow has been dealing with a back injury that has limited him to just 10 games on the season. He was previously upgraded to questionable, with the possibility that he would play for the first time since early November, but he is now slated to miss Sunday’s game.