Heat's Jimmy Butler ruled out for Game 5 vs. Hawks with knee issue
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler won't play in Tuesday's Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks because of right knee inflammation.
The Heat announced the news Tuesday afternoon. Butler will miss the game alongside fellow starter Kyle Lowry, who was previously ruled out with a hamstring injury that also sidelined him in Game 4.
The knee is the same one that required surgery in 2018 after Butler tore his meniscus as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler, 32, has been hampered by a series of ankle and foot injuries this season that limited him to 57 games during the regular season, but his knee generally hasn't been problematic.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters that the team isn't sure what prompted the soreness and that Butler isn't scheduled for an MRI.
Will knee issue linger for Butler?
Butler has been Miami's best player through the first four games of the playoffs, averaging 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals while shooting 54.3% from the field and 43.8% from 3-point distance on four attempts per game. His absence on Tuesday is an obvious concern while the implications of a knee issue raise even bigger worries for the East's No. 1 seed. The extent of Butler's inflammation and his longer-term prognosis wasn't immediately clear.
The Hawks rallied for a 111-110 win in Game 3 for their first win of the series before the Heat cruised to a 110-86 Game 4 win with Lowry sidelined to take a 3-1 series lead. Butler tallied 36 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in the win. Now the Heat face a closeout game at home with two of their top players unavailable.