It has been reported that Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler will be out “multiple weeks” with an MCL injury suffered in Wednesday night's loss against the Philadelphia 76ers, 105-104, in the play-in tournament according to Shama Charania of The Athletic. This is no doubt a huge blow for the Heat as they were trying to recreate the magic from last season and go back to the NBA Finals led by Butler who was dynamite in the playoffs.

It has been confirmed by an MRI Thursday that Butler has an MCL sprain and will be out for “several weeks” according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The team announced on their X (formerly known as Twitter) that he will be out alongside Terry Rozier for the sixth straight contest for the play-in game against the Bulls Friday.

He sustained the injury towards the end of the first quarter where he landed awkwardly on 76ers forward Kelly Oubre Jr. after a shot attempt in the paint where he drew a foul. To stay in the game, Butler shot the two free throws needed and played a total of 40 minutes for Miami despite being noticeably limited and hindered by the injury, finishing with 19 points.

Butler spoke with the media after the game and had a bittersweet attitude about his injury where he said that he hopes he's fine, but at that current moment, he “can't say that's the case” according Chiang. On the season, the 34-year old has averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and five assists per game while shooting 49.9 percent from the field in 60 contests.

“I hope that I’m fine,” Butler said. “I hope that I wake up tomorrow and can still stick-and-move. Right now, I can’t say that’s the case.”

There was a shred of hope due to MRI, but Butler still out several weeks

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) reacts after a collision during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

While the original report from Charania and later confirmed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is present, it has also been reported by the local media in Chiang and Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel that Butler has yet to do an MRI on the injury. Even though that doesn't take the seriousness out of the situation, Butler has yet to be evaluated which would show the extent of the issue.

“I fell and he landed and my knee just didn’t do well, I guess,” Butler said. “I don’t know. But it’s not a good feeling, I can tell you that.”

The feeling of despair was palpable right when Butler went down with the injury as the ESPN broadcast the up and close frustrations of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra plus executive Pat Riley and former player Alonzo Mourning. The Marquette product would talk about the hopes of “adrenaline” helping him be able to move at full speed, “but that just wasn't the case.”

“Honestly, I thought the adrenaline would kick back in and I’d be able to move,” Butler said. “But that just wasn’t the case. I wasn’t able to do anything on either side of the ball and I think I hurt us more than I helped us actually.”

Erik Spoelstra on Butler's perseverance to stay in game despite injury

Despite the injury to Butler, Miami was playing well in the first half as they led by as much as 14 points, but would eventually lose the lead, ending the game in a loss. Spoelstra commented after the game about Butler's situation saying that he “appreciate him for that competitive spirit.” He also went into how the injury “really stiffened up in the second half” where the movement seemed more limited than ever.

“He’s putting himself out there and I just really appreciate him for that competitive spirit,” Spoelstra said. “It really stiffened up on him in the second half. He was able to still move a little bit in that second quarter after it. But then as the second half went on, it started to limit him a little bit more — just the movement.”

Tyler Herro on Butler and injuries plaguing the Heat

As the main scoring option in Butler was rectified, the Heat went to star Tyler Herro in the hopes of being that shot creator that the team needs especially in close games like Wednesday. It was a rough night for the 24-year old as even though he made some big shots in the fourth quarter, he finished with 25 points off making nine shots out of 27 attempts with five turnovers.

“I’m sure the way he was limping and how he reacted to his fall that he was in pretty bad pain,” Herro said. “And he continued to play through it just to give his body to the team. Obviously we all know how much this year means to him and getting into the playoffs.”

The injury to Butler is just another instance of how poorly this season has gone in terms of health as the Heat are fifth in the NBA in missed games. Because of that, Miami has had to use 35 different starting lineups in the season, but Herro said after the game that it's just more hurdles for the team to overcome.

“That’s been our story, our DNA for the last couple years,” Herro said. “There’s always been something that we’re dealing with as a team. It’s going to bring us closer and we’ll try to get ready for Friday no matter who’s available. Obviously, we’re hoping everything is OK with JB. We need him.”

Butler says “we'll be alright”

For Butler's reaction, he seems calm and collected about the situation, despite the obvious disappointment about the possibility of not being able to compete for a while. After saying the Heat will be “alright,” he stressed that they should be used to key players missing game with the season now on the line.

“We’ll be alright,” Butler said. “It hasn’t been easy for us all year long. We’ve been playing with guys nicked up all year long, so we should be used to it by now. This is a must-win or our season is over.”

Miami is now in the same situation as they were in last season where they lost the first play-in tournament game to the Atlanta Hawks and had their season on the line against the Chicago Bulls where they just squeaked by. The rest is history as they made the NBA Finals from the eighth seed beating teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and the New York Knicks.

After losing to the 76ers, the Heat have one more chance to be inserted in the playoffs as they host the Bulls Friday night for the opportunity to be the eighth seed and face the Boston Celtics. However, will be without their best player in Butler and another key player in Terry Rozier who has missed the last five games.