Southeast Notes: Butler, Richardson, Anthony, Magic, Hornets

After an injury-riddled 2022/23 season that surprisingly saw Miami reach the NBA Finals as the No. 8 seed in the East, the Heat once again have dealt with several injuries to start ’23/24, with starters and rotation players missing time. That has played a factor in the team’s 1-3 start, which includes three consecutive road losses, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes.

According to Chiang, Jimmy Butler — who already missed a game due to rest — is the latest player to pop up on the injury report, having been listed as questionable for Wednesday’s matchup with Brooklyn due to right knee tendinitis. While there’s optimism the injury isn’t serious, it’s still a bit concerning that Butler is less than 100%, particularly since that knee has given him problems over the past few seasons, Chiang reports (via Twitter).

After three home games this week, the Heat will play nine of their following ten games on the road, and they are fully aware that this is a key stretch of the schedule, despite being very early in the season.

This is an important week for us coming up at home,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have a lot of work to do. We’ve had a lot of moving parts early on in the season. That’s not an excuse. We need to just have a productive week. We have three games at home and we have some time with shootarounds, practices. We just need to move the needle this week.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • One bit of good news for the Heat is that Josh Richardson was able to make his season debut in Monday’s loss at Milwaukee, notching six points, three rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. He says he’s still working his way back into shape after his preseason was cut short due to a foot injury. “Hopefully I can bring something positive to their mix, just a little ball-handling, a little pace,” Richardson said, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Defensively, I think I can do some things for us. But it’s really about getting my feet wet, because I really didn’t have a preseason. So just trying to get back into the swing of things.”
  • Magic guard Cole Anthony, who signed a three-year, $39MM rookie scale extension before the season started, recently had an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda that covers a number of topics, including his new deal, how he’s been able to improve throughout his career, and the team’s goals.
  • Speaking to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel, head coach Jamahl Mosley credited the Magic‘s depth and health for the team’s 2-1 start. “It helps out so much because someone’s number can always be called,” Mosley said. “The work that our coaches put in with these guys is so detailed and they’ll be ready no matter when their number is called.” As Beede notes, instead of going with set rotations, Mosley has improvised and gone with who has been playing the best from game-to-game.
  • With the NFL’s Panthers struggling, the Hornets have a chance to become Charlotte’s premier sports team, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. However, that will only transpire if the Hornets — who are currently mired in the NBA’s longest playoff drought — can show fans they’re worth following, Boone opines.
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