Hobbled Jimmy Butler serves as ‘decoy’ in Heat’s Game 1 win

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat star, remained on the court despite a rolled ankle injury in the Heat’s 108-101 playoff game win against the New York Knicks. Butler made it clear he didn’t want to come out of the game after the injury, convincing Heat coach Erik Spoelstra he would not be a liability as they worked to secure the win. Butler did not give any post-game comments to the press but was nursing the injury as he walked through the Heat locker room post-game. The trust between coach and player has developed over time, said a composed Spoelstra after the game, and Butler helped the team come back from a rough first quarter as the Knicks jumped out to an early double-digit lead.

Butler finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in 43 minutes, 27 seconds. He gutted out the rest of the game despite being mostly a decoy for the team. Lowry, who had 18 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in 29:59 off the bench and four blocks, said Butler showed his — and the team’s — toughness by continuing to play. Game 2 is set for Tuesday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden, but there will be three days off between then and Game 3 on Saturday in Miami. There is no official word on Butler’s status, but the Heat have had to deal with injuries to key players, including in the first round when they lost Tyler Herro to a right hand fracture and Victor Oladipo to a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

Despite being clearly hobbled, the Knicks did not initially attack Butler. According to Second Spectrum tracking, he was involved in just two pick-and-rolls over the final five minutes. The Heat have been through a lot during the season, said Spoelstra, and the game was about focusing on the task at hand. Gabe Vincent, who had 20 points, said the team will adjust if they have to play without Butler.

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