The Miami Heat have their back against the wall Friday night as they will face the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Play-In Tournament in the fight for the eighth seed with the winner facing the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. However, while the team embraces gaining success the hard way, it could be too much to overcome with the likely absence of star Jimmy Butler.

Miami's featured player was injured towards the end of the first quarter of the matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers after landing awkwardly on Kelly Oubre Jr. where he was clearly in pain and limping. He ended up playing the rest of the game, logged 40 minutes, and scored 19 points.

However, his outlook looks grim as the current fear as reported by Shama Charania is that it's an MCL injury that could sit him out for a couple of weeks. On the other hand, results have not been revealed of Butler's MRI as it will be conducted today according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

In any sense, the Heat have to prepare for the Bulls without Butler and possibly Terry Rozier who has been out the past five games with a neck injury. Facing the same path as last year where it took the second play-in game against Chicago to get in the playoffs, it ended up in a historic run then, but what about now?

Here are our bold predictions for the Heat's play-in tourney game against the Bulls Friday night inside the Kaseya Center:

Tyler Herro stepping up with likely absence of Butler

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) and guard Tyler Herro (14) talk as Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) stands behind during the third quarter of a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

While Butler was in the game Wednesday, he acted more so as a decoy rather than a factor on either side of the ball since he was very limited. The role of the featured offensive player went in the hands of star Tyler Herro which finished with middling results.

He would finish with 25 points and nine assists, but his shooting efficiency was frustrating as he only made nine of his 25 attempts from the field. Herro did have some big shots in the fourth quarter, but also had some turnovers (five in total) that killed a lot of crucial plays for Miami.

This time around, Herro is going to come up huge for the Heat against the Bulls as the opponent doesn't have as good of a defense as Philadelphia does, but also the motivation from the young star will be put on full display. Especially with Butler out, Miami desperately needs an explosive shot creator and he will fill that role plus being a facilitator if Rozier can't go as Herro said talks about overcoming “bad shooting nights” according to Chiang.

“There’s moments through games and throughout the season, you have bad shooting nights,” Hero said. “I tried to just stay engaged as best as I could. Obviously, I would have loved to have made those shots. But I can’t make all of them. I tried to stay engaged, compete on the defensive end and make plays for my teammates when I could.”

Heat keeping Coby White in check

When watching the Bulls beat the Hawks handedly, the one aspect that stood out was the exceptional performance from their star in Coby White who had a career night and scored 42 points to go along with nine rebound and six assists. If there is one thing the Heat can do well, it's play defense as they finished top five in defensive rating.

It's fair to expect that Miami keeps White at bay in the crucial game as the Heat look to dirty up the contest and bring their toughness despite losing a key player that embodies the “Heat Culture.” Even White admitted after the Bulls beat the Hawks that Miami plays “hard” and “physical” according to NBC Sports Chicago.

“They have a culture,” White said. “Whoever steps up in his spot, they’re not going to bring everything he does because he’s an All-Star. But Miami is one of those teams that when you play them, you know what to expect. They play hard, they play physical, they don’t quit. They always keep coming and bringing energy.”

There is no doubt that the Bulls have others to prepare for like veteran DeMar DeRozan and big-man Nikola Vucevic, but White has been streaky where his performances have decided games either in their favor or not. He should be one of the main focuses for Friday night.

Despite the negativity, Miami prevails

There might be fans that want this season to be over with because of the injuries to Butler and Rozier and don't have the belief that Miami could recreate the magic from last season. However, there is no doubt that the team disagrees and will give 100 percent out there no matter what.

It almost seems as if Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and the rest of the team thrive in these types of situations when the chips are down with them. Even without Butler, the team still has key players that could play to their strengths and ultimately win this game and mixed with how how the Bulls have played this season, this game is still winnable despite the noise around them.

Something has to give as Miami and Chicago have tied the regular season series at two a piece. However, this game should be a dogfight as the Heat will look to take this in the mud and hope to come out of it as the winner.